This story has been adapted from its original form. The full version can be found at africa.clintonfoundation.org
Farming runs deep in my blood. As a third generation farmer, commercial crop production is not just a source of income, but a way of life. With approximately 72 percent of the Tanzanian population living in rural areas, the same could be said for the vast majority of people living here today. Tanzania has been blessed with optimal climate conditions and hard-working entrepreneurial farmers. But various challenges are limiting our ability to reap from these benefits, and they’re poised to only get worse—affecting not only individual farmers, but the growing world population that will need increased food production levels to sustain it.
The challenges we’re confronted with vary, but they are all interconnected. Maize production, for example, is currently at 20 percent of its potential in Tanzania due to poor farming techniques and poor storage. This low stock coupled with pressures to keep prices down, such as the urban population’s expectation for cheap food, makes it so farmers struggle to make enough money to feed their families.
Improving the agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers in Tanzania will not only help to improve their quality of life, but it can also be a strong weapon against the possible upcoming global food shortage. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, food production will need to increase by 60 percent over the next 35 years in order to feed the world’s growing population. In addition to population growth, biofuels (grown from crops) and the fast-growing demand for meat (grains are used for animal feed) are adding to the increasing demand for agricultural productivity. Yet, poor farming practices and unfavorable market positions are driving smallholder farmer productivity down.
Fortunately, a lot can be done to help farmers increase yields while protecting natural resources.The Clinton Development Initiative’s Anchor Farm Project is helping farmers improve efficiency in a number of ways, including improving practices and processes related to soil function, seed variety, and the protection of crops. And by integrating commercial farm operations with smallholder farmer outreach and extension services in the surrounding communities, the Anchor Farm Project increases smallholder farmers’ access to local markets and enables them to participate equitably in those markets. CDI puts the farmer first, providing access to agronomic knowledge and training, inputs, and markets.
See the Anchor Farm Project’s impact in action at http://africa.clintonfoundation.org/agriculture/#!/.