The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) initiative was born out of the deliberations of the World Economic Forum on Africa held in May, 2010 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The idea behind the initiative was to support and bolster efforts being undertaken by the Government of Tanzania, the people of Tanzania and other stakeholders aimed at bringing about the green revolution.
Tanzania is, in essence, an agricultural country where, agriculture means almost everything. Over 80 percent of the people live in the rural areas and, agriculture is their main source of livelihood. Agriculture, accounts for 95 percent of the food we eat, 25 percent of the GDP and 30 percent of the foreign exchange earnings. It is a major source of raw materials for agro-based industries. Agriculture, therefore, holds a unique position with respect to the socio-economic wellbeing of Tanzania and her people. It is a critical factor in efforts to reduce and, ultimately, eradicate poverty in the country. We cannot eradicate poverty, promote balanced socio-economic growth and achieve food security without transforming our agriculture.
Tanzania has immense opportunities for agricultural development. There are 44 million hectares of arable land, only 24 percent of which is being utilised. Many parts of the country have good rains but there are, also, other vast water resources in rivers, lakes and underground, which can be used for irrigation. There are ample opportunities for building dams to capture rain water in seasonal rivers and use it for agriculture. Unfortunately, only 381,000 hectares are under irrigation. Tanzania’s agriculture is predominantly small holder, characterized with very low productivity due to very limited use of modern technology and techniques of production. As a result, therefore, the country’s huge agriculture potential remains unutilized.
Since independence, transforming agriculture has been the focus of government policies and actions of all administrations. Several policy initiatives and programmes have been put in place and implemented, at different times in the history of Tanzania. Two such landmark policy initiatives which were made during the time of the first President, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, were the Villagisation Policy and the Iringa Declaration. The latter, famously known as “Siasa ni Kilimo” meaning Agriculture is Politics, underscored the use of irrigation besides other aspects of modernization of agriculture. These two policy documents shaped agricultural policy measures through the First, Second, Third and Fourth Phase Governments.
When we came into office in 2006, we completed the design of the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy (ASDS) and the Agriculture Sector Development Programme (ASDP). The former was the policy and the latter its action plan for a green revolution in Tanzania. The objective was to take bold actions to enable Tanzania to realize her aspirations of a modernized and highly productive agriculture. In 2009, a new strategy called ‘Kilimo Kwanza’, meaning ‘Agriculture First’ was designed. The new strategy, properly anchored the involvement of the private sector in the development of agriculture. It underscored the critical importance of the private sector participating actively in agricultural production, provision of agricultural inputs, crop marketing and in the agricultural value chain.
it is in this context that, the Government welcomed the idea of the SAGCOT initiative. This is a public private partnership well-placed to achieve the objectives of Kilimo Kwanza, from Tanzania’s coastal plains and the valleys of Kilombero and Ruaha, to the hills and valleys of the Southern Highlands and the Usangu flats. The Southern Agricultural Corridor can be the breadbasket of Tanzania and beyond. Food security will be assured and wealth creation for the smallholder farmers would become a reality.
Soon after the Dar es Salaam meeting, a Committee (The Executive Committee) was set up to develop an investment blueprint for SAGCOT. The Committee draws its members from the Government as well as from the private sector, both domestic and international. The Committee has successfully completed its work. The Investment Blueprint it produced shows what needs to be done to leverage the agricultural potential of the Southern Corridor. It sets out a clear roadmap for improving rural infrastructure, catalyzing private investment and facilitating better coordination and collaboration between the private and public sector as well as the small holder farmers. It recognises the role of the development partners. It also highlights investment opportunities that offer good financial returns and deliver benefits to smallholder farmers as well.
I am proud to say that because of the importance we attach to the SAGCOT initiative, my Government was the first to commit funding ahead of all partners. We, in Government are convinced that the initiative supports our objectives for a Tanzanian green revolution. Also, it is in line with our commitments under the Agricultural Sector Development Programme and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
I know there will be challenges, but I am optimistic that through our cooperative endeavors and commitment, we will be able to overcome them. In the end, we will succeed to create a corridor of highly productive and competitive agriculture at the local, regional and global market place. We will also witness significant poverty reduction among the people who live in the corridor and its surroundings. Given the commitment and efforts of the Government coupled with the energy, experience, expertise as well as the financial and technological strengths of the private sector, plus the support of Tanzania’s development partners, we should be able to deliver on our aspirations.
The SAGCOT Investment Blueprint is a call to action for all of us. Let us respond accordingly and make the SAGCOT initiative a reality. “It can be done, play your part”.
Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President, The United Republic of Tanzania (January 2011)