Tanzania Agriculture and Fishing Overview

Tanzania Facts

Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania, is a state of about 40 million people in East Africa.
Capital: Dodoma
Official language: Swahili, English
Currency: Tanzanian Shilling
Passport and visa: Finnish citizens are required to have a visa to Tanzania .
Time difference to Finland +1
Daylight saving time is not used

Agriculture and fishing

Agriculture employs about two out of three working people in Tanzania. The vast majority of them grow for their own use in small fields. In addition, agriculture is important for the country’s economy as a whole and contributes almost one third of the country’s GDP.

  • CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Tanzania. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.

Nearly a tenth of the land area is cultivated. The rainy and fertile areas are found in southwestern Tanzania and in the north, mainly around Mount Kilimanjaro and on Lake Victoria. Irrigation is unusual.

Small-scale agriculture has a low yield and is done with outdated implements. The most important food crop is maize, but also cassava, sweet potato, sorghum, rice, millet and bananas are grown for their own consumption. Drought is a recurring problem for the farmers.

Tanzania also has important export agriculture. Previously it was dominated by coffee crops around Kilimanjaro, but coffee prices have fallen and the climate has become warmer. Cotton cultivation has also lost significance due to uncertain rainfall. Many farmers have started growing vegetables, cut flowers or sunflowers instead. The salad crops also include tobacco, cashew nuts, tea, sisal (a kind of hemp), coconuts, sugarcane and cardamom. In Tanzania many fruits are also grown, such as bananas, mangoes and pineapples. For Tanzania defense and foreign policy, please check prozipcodes.

For Zanzibar (really Pemba), cloves are the backbone of the economy. The spice accounts for around three quarters of the island group’s export income. The production of cloves goes up and down, which causes sharp fluctuations in Zanzibar’s economy. Kopra (dried coconut meat) was previously an important agricultural product, but it has declined in economic terms. Tobacco, rubber, seagrass, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla and peppermint are also grown on the islands. Important crops for the Zanzibar households are millet, corn, sweet potatoes, bananas, cassava, rice, peas, peanuts and sorghum.

Livestock farming is very important in Tanzania and the country has one of Africa’s largest livestock populations. Most important is the zebun (a kind of cow) but there are also a lot of goats and sheep.

Agricultural development is an important part of the fight against poverty, and the government gives priority to expanding modern irrigation, roads and other infrastructure. The authorities are working to clarify the laws on ownership of the land, and to lower farmers’ taxes.

About 40 percent of Tanzania’s land area is wooded. However, each year large areas of forest disappear through fires and logging (see Natural Resources, Energy and Environment).

Despite 80 km of coast, sea fishing is poorly developed. The fishing fleet is small and out of date, both along the coast and on Zanzibar. In the big lakes, however, a lot of fish are caught. In Lake Tanganyika mainly sardines are fished.


Agriculture’s share of GDP

28.7 percent (2017)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

44.8 percent (2016)

  • Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of TZA stands for the state of Tanzania in geography.



Magufuli re-elected as CCM leader

December 21

At a congress, the CCM elects President Magufuli as the chair of the State Party.


The pressure on LGBTQ people is increasing

October 18

Twelve men are arrested in Dar es Salaam for “practicing homosexuality” at a hotel in the city. The city’s chief of police calls on the public to report observations that allow the police to respond quickly to such activities. Tanzania has received international criticism for the closure of health centers specialized in AIDS treatment, on the grounds that they promote homosexuality.

Shot regime critics out of danger

October 17

Tundu Lissu, MP for Chadema, leaves the hospital in Nairobi where he underwent 17 surgeries since he was shot by unknown offenders outside his residence in Dodoma (see September 2017). His life is out of danger but he needs additional care at home.


Newspaper closes following presidential criticism

September 25

The government stops publishing the independent daily newspaper Mwanahalisi for two years. The magazine has been closed several times before, partly three months in 2008 and three years from 2012. The reason this time is that Mwanahalisi published a letter from a reader criticizing President Magufuli. Since Magufuli was elected in October 2015, he has increasingly attacked the media and the opposition, writes AFP news agency. Three months ago, the weekly magazine Mawio was closed for a two-year period. Mawio had published reports of the involvement of two former presidents in questionable business in the mining industry.

Around 20 are arrested for homosexual acts

September 16th

Twelve women and eight men in Zanzibar are arrested and accused of practicing homosexual acts. A few days before the arrest, the Deputy Minister of Health said homosexuals “should be fought with full force”. Sex between men can provide life imprisonment while the corresponding law does not exist for women.

Assassination attempt on regime critics

September 7

The regime critic and MP Tundu Lissu from Chadema is shot by unknown perpetrators outside his residence in Dodoma. Lissu survives and is taken to a hospital where doctors describe his condition as critical.


The pressure is increasing against Chadema

August 24th

The Center for Legal and Human Rights accuses the government of harassing MPs from the opposition party Chadema. Two days earlier, MP Tundu Lissu was arrested for the sixth time in 2017. This time he is arrested for insulting the president by revealing that the Canadian state retained an aircraft purchased by the Tanzanian government due to an unpaid debt. A few weeks earlier, another politician from Chadema was arrested for planning to hold a meeting outside his constituency. A third Chada politician was arrested for keeping speech seven minutes longer than planned. In a statement, the human rights organization says there is no legal basis for the arrests and emphasizes that “it is not a crime to be a member of another party (other than the government party)”.


Oppositionists are charged with insulting the president

July 25

Tundu Lissu of the opposition party Chadema is prosecuted for calling President Magufulo dictator. Earlier that month, Halima Mdee of Chadema was arrested for criticizing Magufuli. A number of people have also been arrested after posting on social media which the authorities deemed politically offensive.

The state is increasing control over the mining industry

July 3

Parliament adopts new laws that give the state greater control over the mining sector. The law provides for the Tanzanian people to have control over the country’s natural resources through state agencies. Private companies must renegotiate their contracts. The background is a conflict between the government and the British mining company Acacia, which is accused of cheating the state for money by not reporting all its gold and copper exports from Tanzania. Acacia denies the charges.


The government sharpened the tone towards LGBT organizations

June 27

The government sharpens tone against organizations working for LGBT -personers rights. President Magufuli and Interior Minister Mwigulu Nchemba threaten to deregister the organizations and arrest anyone who participates in campaigns to strengthen the rights of LGBTQ people (previously clinics working with HIV / AIDS have been closed and several people have been arrested). Foreigners participating in such campaigns should be expelled immediately. President Magufuli says the measures should be taken even if it means that Tanzania loses aid money because of this.

Teenage mothers are condemned

June 23rd

President Magufuli says teenage girls who become pregnant should be forced to quit school. According to the president, it is a waste of state money to give girls free education if they are to take care of infants during school hours. The president receives sharp criticism from the women’s rights organization Femnet for punishing the girls instead of doing something about the sexual abuse they are exposed to in schools. The organization accuses Magufuli of destroying all efforts made to free African girls from discrimination and violence.

Mining scams cost billions

June 12

A commission that has investigated the Tanzanian mining industry says that fraud in the industry has cost the state the equivalent of EUR 75 billion since 1998. Above all, foreign mining companies are accused of tax fraud. According to the report, the control of the mining industry has been so poor that the authorities had no idea what the exports were or what minerals were exported. President Magufuli orders that the laws governing mining contracts be reviewed. In March, exports of raw materials from the mines were banned in order to promote the domestic processing industry, create new jobs in the country and increase the state’s income.


The Minister of Mines is dismissed

24th of May

President Magufuli dismisses Mines Minister Sospeter Muhongo for mining companies to underestimate the value and scale of their exports to pay less tax. The head of the mining industry’s audit authority may also leave his job.


Thousands of government employees are laid off

April 28

President Magufuli dismisses nearly 10,000 public servants who, according to a report, have obtained their jobs with the help of false diplomas. The president calls on the media to publish the names of those who have been fired.


Minister dismissed

March 23rd

Minister of Information Nape Nnauye is dismissed after criticizing one of the president’s close allies. This, roughly the equivalent of the governor of the Dar es Salaam region, had stormed into a private television station accompanied by six armed men to demand that it show a video that soiled a man the governor has a conflict with. The TV station refused to show the film, and Nnauye investigated the incident and made a personal visit to the station. President Magufuli responded by dismissing the minister and expressing his open support for the governor, who according to the investigation had threatened the TV staff with extortion and imprisonment if they did not show the film.

Demands for increased freedoms

March 2

Eight community organizations, in a joint call, urge the government to better respect freedom of speech and assembly. The organizations plan to organize seminars and debates over a year to emphasize their demands. President Magufuli has long been accused of an authoritarian regime and of enforcing human rights laws. The 2016 Media Act, which restricts the activities of journalists and bloggers and restricts the freedom of social media, has been appealed to court. Demonstrations and political meetings have also often been stopped or dissolved by order of the president. He has also closed newspapers and stopped live broadcasts of parliamentary debates.

Tanzania Agriculture and Fishing