News and updates from Case Study 4 – Priority Intervention Requirements to Enhance the Capacity of Sub Saharan African (SSA) Countries to Improve the Volume and Quality of Agri-food Exports – The cases Cassava in Tanzania

The Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) undertakes this case study that aims to identify key interventions needed by Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries to foster access of agri-food products Tanzania-Cassava, Ethiopia-Goats, Uganda-Banana and Ghana-Cocoa) to the European Union and other international markets. This news piece focuses on cassava in Tanzania. Cassava is the third most important staple food crop in Tanzania after maize and rice. About 1.9million stakeholders are involved in cassava production and/or other businesses along the entire cassava value chain. cassava has great potential in terms of food and nutrition security, income generation and provision of industrial raw materials.

The case study involved a review of secondary data and obtaining primary information from stakeholders along cassava value chain using key informant interviews (KIIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs). The KIIs and FGDs were conducted in June and July 2023 in four regions of Tanzania, namely: Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Dodoma, and Pwani. The key stakeholders were purposefully selected based on their knowledge, experience, and involvement in the cassava value chain. The sample of stakeholders for KIIs included 11 respondents representing policy makers, local government officers, regulatory bodies, research institutions, and local communities such as farmers, transporters, processors, traders, and consumers. FGDs involved more than 30 farmers organised in 3 groups from three different regions.

A group photo, facilitator (Dr. Lunogelo) seated second from right with FGD participants  from Handeni district in Tanga region.

The general consensus among stakeholders was that cassava crop provides an economic opportunity to raise rural livelihoods’ standard. For many years, cassava has been taken as a subsistence crop and used as an insurance against famine when cereals fail. However, farmers started producing it as a commercial crop after realizing that there was a huge demand for it in China. Local Government Authorities and the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institution (TARI) supported farmers with improved higher-yielding cassava breeds after buyers connected with the Chinese market promised to support contract farming arrangements. Unfortunately, COVID-19 disrupted the arrangement such that the bulk buyers, who had provided them with cassava cutting machines and drying facilities, failed to honour their contractual obligations.

This provided a lesson for improving current legislations on contract farming frameworks to protect the interest of smallholder farmers. Farmers are therefore happy that there is a possibility of an alternative market in the EU. Although China’s market appears easier to access compared to that of the EU, farmers indicated readiness to adjust and comply with conditions in the EU which consists of multiple countries with varying laws and regulations. Farmers and local processors therefore wish that the Government of Tanzania to collaborate with the private sector and development partners such as the EU Commission (or individual EU member states) to promote the cassava value chain. Among the suggested intervention areas include enhancing farm productivity and improved quality of the raw and processed products that can easily meet export requirements to the EU. Others are motivating the financial sector to provide working capital to the private sector, especially in accessing technology for land preparation, minimizing post-harvest losses and engaging in value addition of cassava to produce products such as cassava starch. They suggested leveraging embassies to establish market connections with EU countries. Additionally, more public resources should be channelled to research institutions to develop cassava varieties that yield higher quantities and are resistant to climate change and associated diseases.

Finally, stakeholders highlighted the importance of public institutions such as the Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO), Tanzania Industrial Research and Development Organization (TIRDO), and Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TANTRADE). Such institutions should strengthen efforts in assisting farmers in producing high-quality products and connecting them with global markets.