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Promoting Sweet Potato varieties for nutrition, health improvement and income among rural poor communities in Tanzania

Increasing farmers productivity by promoting high-yielding climate smart agriculture to enhance family income, nutrition and health improvem

Photo of Peter Matyoko
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Tanzania Home Economics Association (TAHEA Mwanza)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

TAHEA as a lead partner will work closely with the 6 local governments Authorities namely Magu, Ukerewe, Sengerema, Buchosa, Kwimba and Misungwi districts and Tanzania Research Institute (TARI) as the principal mover for the technology transfer.

Website of Legally Registered Entity


How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 10+ years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Mwanza Region

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United Republic of Tanzania

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

6 Rural districts of Mwanza region

What country is your selected Place located in?

United Republic of Tanzania

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

 We have selected Mwanza because it is a place where you can influence the production of sweet potato for health and nutrition improvement in addition to income generation. The region has been affected in food production due to poor rainfall distribution, drought and in some cases floods which in cases of stunted growth among children is one of the impact. The failure to produce food in the required amount is mainly a climate change phenomenon and it requires actions which can help mitigate the climate change impact especially among the resource poor communities who mainly depend on rain-fed agriculture. The intervention to address the impact of climate change is to focus on the increase and the availability of accessible climate smart food for the growing population. In our case, sweet potato production suits the challenge options to enable resource poor communities in Mwanza region to mitigate the climate change impacts in food production. Climate change is fast pushing the poorest and most marginalized communities beyond their capacity to respond.

In reference to the situation, TAHEA Mwanza will enhance the existing knowledge of the farmer by providing demand-driven and market-led extension services that consider individual needs and goals of the farmer supported through Mentoring and Coaching visits. Having demand driven and market led extension services will help the farmer to achieve the family goals by increasing their produce which considers the sweet potato varieties which are preferred by the consumers and fetch good prices.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The region is located on southern parts of Lake Victoria, about 1200 - 1,400 metres above sea level; and lies between latitudes 1030’ and 300’ South of the Equator and between longitudes 31045’ and 34010’ East of Greenwich. The region shares borders with Lake Victoria in the North. The Lake Victoria waters separate the region from the neighboring countries of Kenya and Uganda.

Rainfall unreliable, bimodal and ranges between 750 mm in dry areas and 1,200 mm in wet areas, the soils of Mwanza can be classified into three major groups (a) sandy soils derived from granite, (b) red loams derived from limestone, and (c) Block clay soils.

The economy in Mwanza is dominated by smallholder agriculture employing about 85% of the region’s population and completed by and expanding fisheries sector. Mining and Livestock sectors also command a recognizable share in the economy of Mwanza region. Mwanza is the leading producer region of cotton, which is one of the Tanzania’s major cash crops for export. For the past two decades cotton production has declined basically due to low profitability and inefficient marketing arrangements. For this reason agriculture has been pushed to second position in terms of foreign exchange earnings. A fisheries activity takes the lead, and mining takes third position. Major food crops in the region are maize, cassava, sorghum, millet, sweet potatoes, paddy and legumes. Maize, cassava and sweet potatoes constitute about 71% of all food crops grown in the region. Apart from cotton, paddy and maize are sometimes treated as cash crops. In most cases the region is unable to feed itself due to persistent droughts.

Mwanza region is one of the regions in Tanzania where the issue of Malnutrition is very high. According to Tanzania Malnutrition Fact Sheet 2016, 38.6% of children under 5 are stunted in Mwanza region. Mwanza is also affected by poor rain distribution which affects food production especially for resource poor communities. Climate change is affecting agricultural production for the resource poor families who lack knowledge on how to mitigate the climate change impact in today’s farming. Farmers agricultural practices do not go hand in hand with the emerging technologies and the fate of diseased planting materials further impact their yield. In addition rural poor communities have for a long time depended on cotton production as their cash crop which is being affected by market, fishing as one of the opportunities by residing the Lake Victoria, has been affected by depleting fish catch and the industrialization of the fishing sub sector which has left many families lose the major livelihood asset they had and ended involving themselves in fishing related small businesses.

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Agriculture is the main part of Tanzania's economy. Almost 70 percent of the poor population lives in rural areas, and almost all of them are involved in the farming sector. Land is a vital asset in ensuring food security, and among the nine main food crops in Tanzania are maize, sorghum, millet, rice, wheat, beans, cassava, potatoes, and bananas. The agricultural industry makes a large contribution to the country's foreign exchange earnings, with more than US$1 billion in earnings from cash crop exports.

The agriculture sector faces various challenges and had been the government’s top priority to develop to reduce poverty and increase productivity. Farming efficiently has been a challenge for many farmers, and lack of finances and farming education has caused many to remain subsistence farmers. Farm sizes remain very small with an average plot size being around 2.5 ha.

Challenges on the Agriculture Industry of Mwanza rural include lack of agricultural technology, droughts, floods, and agriculture temperature shocks. These pose severe challenges to the living standards of most of people involved in the Agriculture Industry in the mentioned area and create huge increases in unemployment, hunger, malnutrition and starvation, and diseases rates.

Our current and future challenges include:

  • Inadequate technology among resource poor small holder farmers in sweet potato production, processing to add value and marketing skills.
  • Lack of clean and healthy planting materials as farmers are using diseased planting materials and hence reduced productivity and surplus for sale, as result households have poor household food security and income.
  • There are no organized collective marketing sites under farmer’s control. (Cooperatives/society)
  • Limited access to friendly community operated credit schemes, which enables farmers to save their own money and access soft loans to expand and increase their produce.
  • Lack of reliable rainfall for long term – food crops.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

  • TAHEA Mwanza aims at increase farmer’s productivity by promoting orange sweet potatoes which is one of the high-yielding, early-maturing, drought resistant crops.
  • TAHEA Mwanza will increase production, train farmers on agronomic practices, use Extension Advisory Services by engaging the local government to make sure that farmers timely follow all the intended practices which include agricultural labour products (ALP), Promoting best use of manure to enhance the soil fertility, timing of planting, timely harvesting and prevent post-harvest losses.
  • Farmers will be trained on the different aspects of agronomic practices, and the Extension workers will provide demand-driven and market-led services (i.e. sweet potatoes varieties which are marketable). Agricultural information will be given through training, use of demonstration plots and the IEC materials.
  • TAHEA Mwanza will enhance farmer’s resilience to climate change by promoting the use of disease free and drought resistant planting materials through establishing DVMs for seed multiplication closer to the farmers for easy access of clean and disease free planting materials which is mitigation step to prevent low production caused by diseased plants, at the same time promote off-season sweet potato production for farmers by using small scale irrigation to enable availability of the product throughout the year.
  • TAHEA Mwanza will reduce emissions by promoting tree planting especially in areas which are not used for farming i.e. demarcation of plots/ fences, pathways and expanded use of agro forestry and conservation agriculture techniques, moreover conservation of wetlands will be advocated.
  • Information is power; the project is going to use Extension Advisory Services which will be offered by the Local Government Officers within their locality as source of information for improving productivity through Mentoring and Coaching visits to farmers.
  • TAHEA Mwanza shall as well provide demand-driven and market- led extension services, to enable farmers produce according to the existing market information i.e. consumer preference on varieties which have more dry matter than those with high sugar content or consumers preference on white fleshed varieties to orange fleshed.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

  • Training farmers in Agronomic practices; processing, product development, utilization, marketing and community managed micro finance activities.
  • Knowledge sharing on emerging new agricultural practices and Technology transfer in Sweet potato subsector.
  • Training of Trainers package will be offered to the Extension officers (services provided by the Local Government Authorities) on both project content and the new extension service approach in supporting farmers. The trained officers will cascade the training through Mentoring and Coaching sessions to individual farmer visit.
  • TAHEA will form Farmer Clusters at Ward - level where farmers will be sharing their experiences on sweet potato production (varieties performance, market, challenges etc.) TAHEA to document the learning. Apart from the Cluster meetings, TAHEA and LGAs will organize a Sweet Potato agricultural show at district level.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Adopting climate smart practices and technologies among smallholder farmers and agro-enterprises in sweet potato production in rural district of Mwanza region.

Increasing investments and business growth in climate smart value chains through processing, product development and marketing of sweet potatoes in collaboration with Business Development Service Providers (SIDO), LGA’s and Processors in Tanzania.

Creating the enabling environment by the government necessary to ensure the large-scale roll-out of market driven climate smart solutions through sweet potato sub sector promotion activities in collaboration with the local government and other sweet potato actors in the 8 targeted districts in Tanzania.

Strengthening the technical capacity of TAHEA Mwanza staff, participating farmers and participants through participatory approaches to climate smart practices and technology transfer in sweet potato production, processing and marketing in the 8 targeted districts.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website


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Photo of Archiebold Manasseh

Good work all the same!

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