Food security in rural Tanzania: Farmers striving towards an uncertain future

By Marika Mura, University of Warwick

Assan Mohamedi is a Tanzanian farmer. He lives in a small remote village 80km away from the city of Dar es Salaam, with his wife and 6 children, his mother, and the child of his dead brother. He has been a farmer for all his life, striving to bring enough food home and trying to give his children a ‘better future’, out of agriculture, through education. It has not been easy for Assan. The rain is getting more unreliable with the years, and the harvests that follow are scarce. His household is forced to find another source of income and to purchase food to survive. Assan, his wife, and two of his younger children cut charcoal and fetch water for other people, while his two older children left school looking for employment in the cities. Like the majority of the farmers’ households in this village, Assan’s family only consumes two meals per day and his household’s situation is common to other neighbouring households. They also share a common diffidence towards politics, convinced that nothing can improve their condition anymore. Farmers trapped in poverty. Farmers trapped in hunger.

What could agriculture offer them? How can they improve their life through farming? Why has agriculture become a synonym of poverty for this community of farmers? And how can politics foster a renewed agricultural sector and make these communities believe in agriculture?

 

Small-scale farmers produce the majority of the food worldwide, but they are not able to feed themselves; those at the bottom of the food chain are those most prone to food insecurity. Despite there being several movements of farmers that respond to food insecurity by claiming back the land from agricultural corporations, and calling for more control over their land, there are also communities of farmers such as the one where Assan lives. They would be willing to abandon their land and run to the cities searching for a job outside of agriculture. Both these realities need to be understood if effective solutions to food insecurity are to be provided. 

Photos of Student Fieldwork