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Tanzania 2016: Collaborative research on the role of youth and technology in achieving food security

 

Summary of the Uniterra International Seminar Research

In the summer of 2016, Uniterra’s International Seminar brought together a team of youth leaders and mentors from all across Canada and Tanzania to research the critical role of agriculture in Tanzania’s economy, from the unique perspective of youth.

Agriculture is in fact the largest sector of the Tanzanian economy, making up nearly half of the country’s GDP and 70% of rural household income. The county’s economy being largely based on agriculture, the expansion of productivity and strengthening of smallholder farmers’ livelihood is the most efficient way to reach the country’s development goals and to alleviate poverty.

The purpose of this research was to identify the challenges experienced by smallholder farmers in Tanzania and to better understand the roles of technology and youth in achieving food security. Primary research consisted of interviews with local farmers, youth farmers, farming organizations, government agencies, NGOs, and private sector institutions in the northern regions of Arusha, Manyara, and Kilimanjaro.

Findings highlighted the numerous challenges facing smallholder farmers face in Tanzania, such as a lack of storage, insufficient training and support, barriers to accessing financing, climate change, and an absence of appropriate technology. Furthermore, youth farmers face additional barriers and need to be at the forefront of government policy and organizational supports, especially in regards to access to resources (land, modern technology, loans, and grants), knowledge (networking opportunities, mentorship, and agricultural and entrepreneurial training opportunities), and promoting positive perceptions of youth in agriculture.

Opportunities were also identified for improving the barriers faced by smallholder farmers through the use of technology and the involvement of youth. For example, many youth are unemployed, yet eager to learn about new technologies. Therefore, they may find food processing to be a more attractive endeavor than cultivation. By encouraging youth to become involved with food preservation, their unique skills could be better mobilized in the sector, which could help improve the local food security situation.

The report highlights the role the Tanzanian government can play in creating policies that support smallholder farmers and youth in agriculture, such as: increasing support and the number of extension officers; improving and increasing the number of storage facilities; investing in food preservation and value-addition; investing in agro-technology aimed at smallholder farmers; making a plan to adapt to climate change; and providing further public education in food literacy and nutrition. In conjunction with these efforts, farming organizations could improve their outreach to farmers by providing relevant resources in accessible languages; providing farmers with proper resources to self-mobilize and form farming groups; identifying youth mentors in agriculture; allowing more opportunities for training and food literacy education; addressing gender roles in agriculture; and investing in long-term development projects.

Click here to read the full report, written by the eighteen youth-leaders who participated in the 70th International Seminar in Tanzania.

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