Agricultural dynamics and food security trends in Tanzania

Type Report
Title Agricultural dynamics and food security trends in Tanzania
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
URL dynamics and​food security trends in Tanzania.pdf
Between 2007 and 2012 the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs funded a research project
to compare the long-term developments in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Longterm
meant: with a focus on the second half of the 20th century. The main research question
was: how could countries, which were all having low levels of socio-economic performance
in the 1950s, differ so much in economic performance in the following decades? The research
team consisted of researchers from the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and
Caribbean Studies (KITLV) and the African Studies Centre, both in Leiden, together with
senior and PhD researchers in four Southeast Asian and four African countries, which were
compared one-to-one: Nigeria with Indonesia, Uganda with Cambodia, Kenya with Malaysia
and Tanzania with Vietnam1
. One of the main conclusions drawn by project leaders David
Henley (KITLV) and Jan Kees van Donge (ASC) was that the economic breakthrough in
Southeast Asia can only be well understood if one looks at the massive state-led rural
development campaigns from the 1960s onwards, which resulted in a major agricultural
revolution and in generally successful rural poverty alleviation on a mass scale. This was
much less so in Africa, where many political leaders in post-colonial governments have made
different choices, neglecting the rural peasants and trying to implement an elite-based
industrialization strategy that had disappointing results (Henley & van Donge 2012; Vlasblom
. The DfID-funded Africa Power and Politics Programme (APPP) came to a
comparable conclusion, focusing on Africa’s ruling elites: these elites exploited or ignored the
rural masses and can be held responsible for economic stagnation and rampant poverty and
hunger. The important scientific and policy question can then be asked: if Africa would put
more emphasis now on its agricultural sector (like Southeast Asia did from the 1960s
onwards), would it be possible to repeat the ‘growth miracle’ and combine an agriculturebased
rapid growth strategy, with a successful poverty alleviation strategy, particularly in the
rural areas?

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