Tanzania is currently the African continent’s fourth-largest producer of rice, and the country has ambitions of knocking Nigeria from the top spot. As a starting point, the East African country plans to meet the entire region’s rice needs and hopes to do so by 2030.
While the rest of the East African Community (EAC) imports a substantial amount of rice, Tanzania produces enough for domestic consumption and a significant surplus for export, with just a small amount of rice imported for consumer demand. Tanzania’s mainland exported 441 908 metric tonnes of rice and 189 277 metric tonnes of maize in 2021, according to Tanzania’s ministry of agriculture.
In the last few years, major market prospects for smallholder farmers have resulted in national self-sufficiency and a sizeable surplus for export, making rice one of Tanzania’s most important cash crops.
How the NRDS has helped increase yields
In 2021, Tanzania’s rice production increased to over three million metric tonnes, and the country hopes to work its way to the top by making use of the 2019-2030 National Rice Development Strategy Phase II (NRDS-II).
According to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Tanzania’s National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) was approved by government in 2008, and aims to gradually transform the existing subsistence-dominated rice sub-sector into a commercially viable production system. It has the goal of sustaining national self-sufficiency while also contributing to regional self-sufficiency and becoming a regional market leader. Phase two of the government’s NRDS 2019-2030 is now complete.
“Collaboration between the government of Tanzania and IRRI formally began in October 1985 when IRRI’s Board of Trustees visited the country. The two parties agreed to cooperate in strengthening rice research, capacity development of national staff, and exchange of rice germplasm and information. Today, over 50% of high-yielding rice varieties in the country originated from IRRI germplasm developed in the region or at its HQ in the Philippines,” IRRI said.
Eight years to reach almost 9 million tonnes
The government and private sector’s implementation of the policy have improved rice output and trade competitiveness. By 2030, the initiative aims to boost production to at least 8.8 million tonnes.
Development partners including Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) and the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), have played an instrumental role in upping business-related productivity within the East African country’s rice industry, according to Anna Mwangamilo, the director of the mechanisation division at Tanzania’s ministry of agriculture.
They have adopted a rice-growing strategy that is technology-dependent and includes widespread use of better seeds and other technologies, such as modern irrigation.