Debate on how to address land conflicts and poverty in rural Tanzania is intensifying. Last year, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition grew out of the Group of Eight meeting in May. Critics say the Alliance is more about providing access to untapped markets in Africa for global corporate giants such as Vodafone and Monsanto than helping to streamline agriculture or free smallholders from poverty. The G-8 has promised to lift 50 million of the world’s people out of ‘extreme poverty’ by 2022 and its key vehicle for boosting agricultural production is private investment
Tanzania was among the first six countries to sign up to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, along with Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana and Mozambique. This year, Benin, Malawi and Niger joined up. Tanzania’s own policy Kilimo Kwanza (Transforming Agriculture) also emphasises the role of the private sector. A scheme to subsidise inputs has been largely unsuccessful in helping small farmers to turn into commercial – or at least more profitable – farmers (AC Vol 54 No 17). Now, with large swathes of prime agricultural land being bought up by both local elites and foreign investors, the question of how to integrate Tanzania’s millions of smallholder farmers into commercial farming rather than evict them from their land is ever more controversial. One response, which is claimed to accommodate both smallholders and investors, is contract-farming, sometimes called ‘out-grower schemes’.
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