Tanzania’s food crop production reached 9.3 million tonnes in 2018/19, compared to 9.7 million tonnes in 2014/15 (-4%). Tanzania’s main staple crops include maize, sorghum, millet, rice, wheat, beans, cassava, potatoes, and bananas.
Maize is the most produced food crop accounting for 62.6%, followed by rice (21.6%), pulses (15.1%), and wheat (0.7%).
Maize is Tanzania’s most important cereal crop in terms of food security. Maize production increased by 3%, from 6.1 million tonnes in 2015 to 6.3 million tonnes in 2019.
Tanzania consumes 90% of its maize production and exports the rest mainly to Kenya (80%), as well as Somalia, Burundi, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Cash crop production reached 0.639 million tonnes in 2018/19, compared to 0.627 million tonnes in 2014/15, marking an increase of 2%. Cashew nuts are the most produced cash crop in Tanzania accounting for 35.2% of the production, followed by seed cotton (34.9%), coffee (10.4%), tobacco (8.6%), tea (5.8%), and sisal (5%).
Cashew nuts production increased by 50%, from 0.155 million tonnes in 2015 to 0.233 million tonnes in 2019. Tanzania is known to produce premium quality cashew nuts fetching higher prices in the world markets compared to cashew nuts from other countries in Africa.
Crops productivity in Tanzania is still low by global standards as smallholder crop farmers have little access to modern farm technologies and inputs, relying instead on rain-fed farming.
In particular, the use of fertilizers by Tanzanian farmers remains very limited and below the recommended rates.
As a result, only 280,000 of an available 29 million hectares of irrigable land are currently being farmed. The Government of Tanzania is working to address these challenges by creating stronger links between commercial and smallholder farming.
Tanzania’s main exported cash crops are tobacco, cashew nuts, coffee, tea, cloves, cotton, and sisal.
Crop exports accounted for USD 830 million (9%) of the total value of Tanzania’s exports in 2019, compared to USD 793 million in 2015, representing an increase of 5%.
Raw tobacco and cashew nuts are Tanzania’s most exported cash crops. The top export destinations of the Tanzanian tobacco are Germany, Russia, and Poland, while almost 80% of cashews are exported to India. Most of the production of cashew nuts in Tanzania is exported without being shelled.
According to a study by the European Commission, Tanzania presents significant opportunities for investments in export agriculture thanks to the availability of land and its membership in two regional trade groups: the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).