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Sustainable Land and Water Management for Resilient and Equitable Food Systems in the Ihemi Cluster, Tanzania

New inclusive green growth models will improve rural incomes, food/nutrition security, women’s empowerment, and land and water management.

Photo of Alexandra Ogden
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

World Wildlife Fund, Inc.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Large NGO (over 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.

PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS: ● Vice President Office (VPO), Government of Tanzania ● Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Government of Tanzania ● Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI, Research Institution) ● Ministry of Water (MoW), Government of Tanzania ● Rufiji Basin Water Board (RBWB)-Government of Tanzania ● Local Government Authorities (LGAs) ● Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) ● Sokoine University of Agriculture (Research Institution) INTERNATIONAL NGOs: ● CARE International in Tanzania (International NGO) ● The Nature Conservancy (TNC- International NGO) ● African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) (International NGO) PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP INSTITUTION: ● Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT)-Public-Private partnership organization

Website of Legally Registered Entity

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

  • 3-10 years

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

Washington, District of Columbia

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States of America

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

The Ihemi Cluster of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), covering a total area of 57,090 km²

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

SAGCOT was born at the Davos World Economic Forum in 2010, when the government of Tanzania declared its commitment to promoting commercial farming in an area where more than 65% of the country's food is produced. SAGCOT’s objectives are to enhance food security, improve livelihoods, and ensure environmental sustainability by catalyzing inclusive and responsible agribusiness investment. To achieve these ambitious goals, SAGCOT works in partnership with government, private sector, and civil society organizations. Together, they seek to transform the region’s agricultural sector into a key supplier of crops and livestock locally, regionally, and globally. Among six SAGCOT sub-areas, SAGCOT prioritized the Ihemi Cluster as Tier 1 for investments due to its strong potential for agribusiness growth and the strong foundation of partnerships between government, private sector companies, and civil society organizations, including small-scale farmer organizations. Despite millions of dollars of commitments to invest in the corridor, there are not yet scalable examples of inclusive green growth to demonstrate how to achieve SAGCOT’s ambitious goals.

 An innovative partnership between leading global development and conservation NGOs, the CARE-WWF Alliance has been engaging in the Ihemi Cluster for almost five years. CARE and WWF each worked independently in SAGCOT’s Ihemi for 10 years and have been leading architects of the social inclusivity and environmental sustainability aspects of the SAGCOT initiative. In 2015, the CARE-WWF Alliance in Tanzania resolved to leverage unparalleled combined institutional strengths in Ihemi by convening local and national partners to more sustainably manage land, water, and investments, to improve food and income security for vulnerable women and their families and bolster agricultural value chains and  sustainable economic growth. This 2050 Vision marks a new phase of work, building on our previous experience and relationships.

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 Ihemi Cluster is home to three dominant ethnic groups: Hehe, Kinga, and Bena. Other minor tribes are the Maasai and Sukuma. Socially, Hehe, Bena and Kinga interact with one other easily, speaking both Swahili (the national language) and Hehe. In contrast, conflict is common between the nomadic, herding Maasai and sedentary farmers from other ethnic groups.

The Great Ruaha River sustains extensive wildlife populations in Ruaha National Park and provides hydropower generation to the Rufiji Basin, of which it forms an important part. The Ihemi Cluster includes portions of the Mbarali and Ndembera rivers that feed the Usangu wetland, the main catchment of the Great Ruaha. The Ihemi Cluster depends heavily on water from the Rufiji Basin’s Ndembera sub-catchment to contribute 15-18% of the national GDP of Tanzania. This river basin is home to nearly 1 million small-scale food producers and several large-scale farming operations that produce grains, fruit, vegetables, and livestock critical to regional and national food security. The downstream portions of the Mbarali and Ndembera each support substantial commercial rice production. Upstream, the two sub-catchments support thousands of farmers through 15+ smaller-scale irrigation schemes with a dry-season irrigation area of over 2,250 ha. The river is under even greater stress due to an influx of migrants drawn to the region by income-generation opportunities, from farming and livestock to timber production.

Over 90% of the population relies on agriculture. On average, 19% of the regional population lives in poverty and 6% in acute poverty. Small-scale farmers, largely women, cultivate staples such as maize and rice, and raise livestock (cattle, poultry and pigs). Other key crops include potatoes, soybeans, bananas, sunflowers, wheat and beans. While maize is traditionally the dietary staple of the region, high urban demand for rice has driven up production. Rice farming has grown in areas with natural flooding; land converted for irrigation agriculture has expanded more than three-fold in recent decades, especially for large- and small-scale commercial rice production. Irrigation is a lifeline for food production, income, and family subsistence in years with poor rains or floods, especially as seasons and rainfall are increasingly variable due to climate change.

 Despite diverse household-level production of food crops, rates of childhood stunting are unacceptably high, between 30% and 50%. Such rates of stunting and malnutrition result from a lack of nutrition education; female heads of households in particular also face labor constraints and are often forced to make trade-offs between feeding their children and supplying the market. Nonetheless, women are highly adaptive in their approaches to managing farming activities and household budgets, including periods of hardship, engaging in a variety of other income-generating activities, such as small-scale enterprises, to supplement household income.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


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

Erratic rainfall due to climate change is already reducing yields in the Ihemi Cluster, affecting farmer income and food security. Small-scale farmers – often women – are especially vulnerable, as they often lack access to technical knowledge, climate-smart technologies, improved seed varieties, markets, land, and finance. Lack of last-mile infrastructure and effective storage, processing, and value-add technology results in 40% post-harvest loss. These challenges deter companies from engaging with small-scale farmers, as they require a consistent supply of high-quality crops to sign contracts.

Thus far, government policies have failed to address these challenges and make natural resource management more inclusive, equitable, or sustainable. Water use is not effectively monitored, with up to double the permitted amount often withdrawn. The Rufiji Basin Water Board, responsible for managing the Great Ruaha, has inadequate resources and capacity. Industry and commercial farmers dominate water extraction, while the pastoralists and small-scale farmers are often excluded and then scapegoated for overuse. Moreover, farmers’ improper and excessive use of agrochemicals degrades soils and pollutes streams and rivers.

Despite strong legal frameworks for climate-smart agriculture, village land use planning, and community-based natural resource management, communities are inadequately supported by government agencies technically and financially. Just 14% of villages have land use plans and 2% of households have secure land rights, putting them at risk for land grabbing by agricultural investors. The current siloed approach to land use planning does not connect water and land, reducing the landscape’s resilience to climate change and putting wildlife in Ruaha National Park at risk. As the population grows, competition over limited water and land will only intensify.

Temperature increases up to 4°C by 2100 will likely translate to reduced water supply and staple yields. The future of income and food/nutrition security in Ihemi will depend on the intensification of agriculture using climate-smart techniques that small-scale farmers cannot readily access today. In light of gender inequality today, women producers will continue to be most vulnerable in the future. This may push out small-scale farmers and reinforce existing income, gender, and ethnic inequalities by 2050.

Increasing rural-to-urban migration, particularly of youth, will dramatically change the agricultural workforce. Although gender roles in Tanzania are changing, women will likely remain responsible for domestic tasks, including childcare and fetching water and firewood, while men will likely continue to dominate financial decision-making. Small-scale farmers may sell more of the protein-rich foods they produce for added income, exacerbating stunting, malnutrition, and hunger, especially for marginalized groups like women, children, elders, and the disabled.

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

The SAGCOT Center, Alliance, and key partners envision an Ihemi in which agricultural investment and economic growth have improved the income, food and nutrition security of small-scale farmers while the restoring ecosystem services of the Great Ruaha River for people and wildlife. To achieve this vision, the Alliance and partners will convene and coordinate diverse stakeholders to undertake a holistic approach to addressing local challenges.

First, climate-smart agriculture (CSA) will reduce the vulnerability of food production to climate change, enable long-term productivity, and improve small-scale farmers’ incomes, food and nutrition security. CSA will also rejuvenate degraded lands and improve soil quality, reduce erosion, and promote vegetation. Farmer, government, and community preparedness is crucial for climate adaptation and minimizing the impacts of predictable inter-annual climate variability. Participatory scenario planning and other investments that increase farmers’ access to and use of climate information and weather forecasting are vital.

Second, development of value chains with farmers’ organizations that pool production will increase farmers’ bargaining power with buyers. Promotion of improved storage, post-harvest handling, and value-addition technologies will reduce post-harvest loss and increase farmers’ opportunities for processing vegetables and fruits. Peer mentoring, farmer support networks, and Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) will further empower small-scale producers, particularly women, with the community, finances, training, and confidence to thrive. Collective investments from VSLAs will be instrumental in increasing access to technologies and financial services.

Increasingly, companies’ and farmers’ engagement in the region will form mutually beneficial linkages to enhance the inclusiveness and sustainability of their value chains. These connections between farmers, the private sector, and public and private sources of credit and investment will address barriers and co-create value propositions. Mainstreaming Inclusive Green Growth (IGG) principles in value chains will serve as a model, enabling scale-up of equitable social and environmental benefits across SAGCOT.

 Critically, integrated land and water management will allow sustainable, inclusive, and equitable management of resources. A landscape approach that considers the needs of all stakeholders, including wildlife, will reduce resource conflict. Together, diverse stakeholders will identify and address opportunities to change the current siloed approach to water and land use planning and management.  We will capitalize on our strong partnerships with government and civil society to scale out improved village land use and water allocation planning processes. Stronger policies promoting IGG in Tanzania will create the enabling conditions for an equitable and sustainable food system in Ihemi by 2050.

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.

We envision that, by 2050, 94% of the population in the Ihemi Cluster lives above the poverty line due to sustainable, equitable, and profitable agricultural development that protects wildlife, natural capital, and ecosystems. Over 75% of small-scale farmers have access to weather information, crop insurance, and CSA technologies, and are more resilient to climate change. Adoption of agroecological practices reduces use of agrochemicals and inorganic fertilizers by 65%, improving both human and soil health. A reliable sustainably grown supply of diverse nutritious foods reduces malnutrition and stunting by 75%.

IGG principles of social inclusivity, environmental sustainability, and economic viability are mainstreamed in policy and government plans. At least 95% of the villages in Ihemi have village land use plans, and 50% of households have secure land rights. The agricultural yield gap is drastically reduced for large and small-scale producers, including women and youth, with minimum impact on the environment, due to incentives to invest in their land. New regulations make climate-resilient and nutrition-sensitive crop varieties and certified seeds more accessible. Due to improved water allocation planning and enforcement, rivers are freely flowing, supporting ecosystem services for agriculture and wildlife. Robust ecotourism and sustainable forestry and timber industries absorb small-scale farmers who leave the agricultural sector. Clean energy replaces traditional charcoal and firewood.

 Traditionally vulnerable groups, including women and youth, shape community decision-making and share in the benefits of green growth. Community-based organizations are vibrant, and governments are responsive and accountable to them. Small-scale farmers are empowered through peer learning, market skills, and collective negotiation power to take advantage of growing market and investment opportunities.

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

As the population in the Ihemi Cluster triples to 6 million people by 2050, pressures on land, water, and natural resources will increase. Through interventions at critical leverage points, the CARE-WWF Alliance, SAGCOT Center, and partners will contribute to a sustainable, inclusive food system in Ihemi Cluster that creates a virtuous cycle of mutually reinforcing changes and meets rising demand. Our vision brings together agricultural transformation, strong community-based organizations, participatory land and water management, and improved policies for economic growth that enable people and nature to flourish.

Agricultural Transformation for Thriving Small-Scale Farmers 

In our 2050 vision, the income and food security of small-scale farmers in Ihemi dramatically improve. Using increased access to mobile phone technology, Farmer Field Business Schools (FFBS) accelerate farmers’ adoption of CSA, agroecology farming techniques, and business and marketing best practices. The FFBS model provides participatory, women-focused extension to help farmers organize, increase production, access markets to sell at competitive prices, and engage in effective farm and business decision-making. Through FFBS, at least two agricultural extension paraprofessionals per village work with district agricultural officers.

Strong relationships among food system actors are vital to improving farmer access to inputs. Partnerships of district extension offices, the Tanzania Agricultural Institute, seed companies, buyers, and commercial agriculture investors with farmer organizations increase their access to key inputs such as improved seed varieties with high nutritional and market value. FFBS help farmers become certified growers of improved seeds and improve the efficiency of their irrigation systems. Stronger farmer cooperatives ensure that small-scale producers access these inputs under fair terms.

As small-scale farmers and livestock keepers make more climate-smart decisions and connections to markets and agricultural value chains deepen, productivity, incomes, and food and nutrition security improve. Participatory scenario planning (PSP) facilitates delivery of user-centered climate information so farmers can use seasonal forecast information for decision-making. By 2050, a majority of small-scale farmers are enrolled in Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA’s) weather alert portal and develop adaptation measures to minimize risks from climate change and weather variability.

Corporations are linked with small-scale producers through direct purchasing using long-term contracts, out-grower schemes, provision of inputs and agricultural extension services, post-harvest storage solutions, and value-added processing of agricultural products. By investing their rising incomes, women and youth engage in value-addition activities such as drying and packaging produce for selling in villages and cities in Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, and Malawi. Small-scale producers have access to credit, starting with participation in Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) to increase financial inclusion and stability. These informal microcredit groups have a proven track record as a critical leverage point for economic, agricultural, and gender transformation, increasing the savings skills and access of poor women and youth to financial and agricultural services. VSLAs also act as a bridge for the poor to enter formal credit markets, increasing the productivity of their farming operations and enabling investment in business opportunities that diversify the rural economy.

By 2050, a new Tanzanian food culture drives change in consumption habits. Through its Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centers, the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender and Elders creates an enabling policy environment to implement a new National Multisectoral Nutrition Action Plan, including a maize fortification strategy. With economic safety nets in place, rural families prioritize consumption over sale of the protein-rich foods they produce such as beans, eggs, and animal proteins. People in Ihemi better understand the nutritional value of foods, which they can purchase as needed with improved incomes. Fruit and vegetable consumption increases, including micronutrient-rich crops like common beans and sweet potatoes. Malnutrition and stunting rates are reduced dramatically. The trend toward health consciousness increases urban demand for local, nutritious foods.

Participatory Land and Water Management as the Foundation for Inclusive Green Growth 

As agribusiness’s role is strengthened and successful small-scale producers move towards commercialization, other families move out of farming into associated activities such as agro-processing. A growing ecotourism sector and sustainable community forestry, among other sectors, absorb some of today’s subsistence farmers. These alternative livelihoods depend on well-managed protected areas and water resources, and community-managed forest reserves, which generate ecological benefits for wildlife and economic benefits for communities and the private sector. As some people move to cities for work and education opportunities, policies support transitions with training and access to credit, including for poor women and youth.

Through PSP, stakeholders in Ihemi build climate preparedness to ensure that the benefits accrued through sustainable agriculture, tourism, and forestry are not lost to extreme weather events and related shocks. TMA, relevant government ministries and district-level agencies, the Vice President’s Office for Union and Environment, NGOs, farmer organizations, and CSOs collaborate to address climate-related impacts. By 2050, the PSP model for community-informed adaptation planning contributes to equitable, sustainable management of freshwater to benefit stakeholders, especially the most vulnerable.

Water allocation plans at the sub-catchment level are developed and enforced. The Rufiji Basin Water Board employs skilled professionals and tools to measure and monitor withdrawals. Basin water officials work closely with community water-user associations, small-scale producer groups, natural resource committees, and village land committees, empowering them with knowledge, skills, and tools to manage water-use permits and distribution. Water users’ associations, village natural resource management committees, district environment offices, private investors, and the Rufiji Basin Water Board collaborate to assess river health and share information with village and district councils. Data-based allocation plans to ensure equitable water access are periodically updated.

Participatory village land use plans are developed to protect water and forests and sustainably manage resources. Community-informed land use planning zones prioritize the most productive areas for intensified agriculture, while maintaining ecosystem services through participatory forest management, forest reserves, commercial timber production, agroforestry and wetland protection. Participatory management reduces conflict and competition over scarce resources. Sustainable timber harvesting income enables communities to reinvest in both community forestry and development priorities. Forestry and agroforestry provide ecosystem and climate benefits, while firewood is largely replaced by labor-saving forms of renewable energy such as solar and biogas. Finalizing land use plans through the investment planning stage ensures that public and private investment is maximized to realize community sustainable development priorities.

Mainstreaming Inclusive Green Growth (IGG) for Good Governance  

Government and corporate policies help to shape the transformation and sustainability of the food system, incentivizing commercial agriculture investors to engage in out-grower schemes that benefit small-scale producers. The financial system incorporates IGG principles into decision-making and lending with agribusiness to mitigate risks of negative environmental and social impacts of agricultural production. With research and NGO partners, governments map natural capital and sustainably manage high-value areas. Government at all levels increases the economic value of well-managed landscapes by seeking jurisdictional certification for them and supports a carbon credit market for sustainable practices.

IGG principles are mainstreamed through multisectoral platforms, such as the Ihemi Cluster Green Reference Group and the Network of Farmers Groups in Tanzania, and through collaboration among government, private investors, financial institutions, NGOs, business development service providers, and research and farmer organizations. Feedback mechanisms ensure that communities’ voices are heard in development planning, policy formulation, implementation, and enforcement. Women’s collective voices are advanced through targeted capacity building and engaging male champions and leaders to model behavior changes. Mutual accountability processes such as our Community Scorecard tool enable communities to hold service-providers and other powerful players to account. Thus, women, youth, and small-scale farmers increasingly engage in governance processes and have greater representation in institutions that affect their lives and livelihoods.

In sum, the CARE-WWF Alliance, the SAGCOT Center, government, private sector actors, and community members will build an inclusive, resilient food system in the Ihemi Cluster. Through existing multi-stakeholder platforms at the cluster and national levels, we will convene and coordinate interventions at critical leverage points for system change. In our 2050 vision, by strengthening local capacity, relationships, and governance – and safeguarding the ecosystems on which food and nutrition security and livelihoods depend – this inclusive green growth model will enable vulnerable people and nature to thrive.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email
  • Website

Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.

Our vision for Ihemi Cluster, Tanzania was ground-truthed and deepened through consultations and inputs from staff and stakeholders throughout refinement. Over 25 staff from CARE, WWF, and SAGCOT Center Limited (SCL) participated in identifying, drafting, and refining an inspiring and feasible vision of the future. Exercises in the first month served to: build a common understanding of the region’s trends and signals; surface knowledge of relationships, dynamics, and trade-offs between system components; and identify what will be necessary in the coming years to deliver a more inclusive and sustainable future by 2050. Supplementary interviews with eight small-scale farmers and private sector stakeholders enriched our perspective. We then shared drafts and feedback on our application in order to incorporate more details on the dynamics that we envision in 2050 and pathways to achieve them. Through this process of co-creation, the Ihemi vision is now jointly owned and widely shared.

Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).

WWF Tanzania and US engaged as co-equal partners with a diverse team of experts from SCL, and CARE Tanzania and US. SCL’s Head of Cluster and Partnership Development and Social/Environmental Safeguards Specialist drafted the policy theme, made connections with key stakeholders for engagement, and participated in content creation exercises regarding signal and trend identification, futurecasting, system linkages, trade-offs, and milestones. CARE engaged eight experts (3M, 5F) in co-creation, i.e., data compilation, exercises, stakeholder interviews, and content drafting. The Monitoring, Evaluation, Evidence and Learning Coordinator compiled trends, signals, and stories for futurecasting; the Program Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Land Management drafted the diets section; the Fundraising Manager drafted the futurecasting and economics sections; and the Technical Director for Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Development drafted the culture section.

Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.

Building on its history of co-creation with diverse stakeholders in the Ihemi Cluster (and despite social distancing constraints imposed by COVID-19), we engaged the following stakeholders by telephone to shape our 2050 vision.

Small-scale farmers: Five farmers (2 men, ages 36-45; 3 women, 1 under 30 and 2 ages 36-45) were engaged in a focus group discussion. Some farmers were early adopters of technology; savings practices and access to credit have enabled adoption of best practices, like drip irrigation, mulching, and integrated pest management. (See Source (S) 12 in Bibliography.)

Processors: Agro-processing will play a big role in the 2050 food system. Given the rise of sunflower oil processing, we spoke to an expert at the Southern Highlands Agricultural Development Company, Ltd. with 10+ years of experience in the value chain who shared the innovative aspects of his company’s contract farming approach (S29).

Government and religious leaders: Two elders (men, ages 65-75) were interviewed to gain insights into local cultural traditions. Epaineto Toroka spent his life promoting indigenous knowledge for innovation. He leveraged his 5 years as the Ministry of Industry’s Director of Investment and Implementation to discuss the role of government in shaping agriculture, finance and trade (S44). John Nkya shared his experience as a lifelong teacher and religious leader (S30).

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs): NGOs are critical to helping farmers access markets and improve their practices. We interviewed Josephine Kaiza (late 40s), CEO of local non-profit BRITTEN with 10+ years agribusiness experience working with small-scale farmers. Kaiza’s opinion also reflects the value chain actors with whom her NGO works closely, input suppliers and traders. She shared how collective marketing models will ensure small-scale farmers benefit from growth by shifting power relations with big companies by 2050 (S20).

What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.

Our 2050 vision is framed by several drivers, which will have negative consequences if left unchecked, and positive signals that show a different future is possible.

One major driver is the current industrial development pathway, which risks overexploitation of farmland, degradation of natural habitats, unsustainable abstraction of water for irrigation, reduction of soil quality, and increased use of fertilizers (S14). The Government of Tanzania (GoT) is increasingly investing in infrastructure to support large-scale commercial agriculture at the expense of small-scale farmers. Left unaddressed, projections show a twofold increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 (S55), with water stress affecting 52% of the world’s population by 2050 (S52). Fortunately, parastatal actors like the SAGCOT have emerged, which seek to catalyze agribusiness investment while also improving small-scale farmer livelihoods and ensuring environmental sustainability (S34).

The second major driver is climate change, which threatens livelihoods through precipitation variability, increased pest incidence, and replacement of perennial crops with annual crops (S7). The economic cost of climate change on Tanzanian agriculture is around US$200 million per year (S37). Small-scale farmers are especially likely to suffer, given their dependence on rain-fed systems—on average only 1.9% of a smallholders’ farmland is irrigated (S17). The Paris Agreement has set a target of 10-20% reduction of GHG emissions by 2030 for Tanzania (S49). Participatory land use planning is now promoted down to the local government level to ensure that villages have plans that will contribute to this goal. In 2018, the Alliance field-tested a Village Land Use Planning (VLUP) approach at landscape level, using satellite technology and with more explicit attention to water users. This approach improved efficiency of the existing process by 71% (S9).

A third major driver is population growth: projections show that Tanzania’s population will almost triple to 137M by 2050 (S41). The rural poor, particularly women, who depend on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods, are especially vulnerable to these three drivers. Customary norms persistently discriminate against women, limiting their mobility, ownership, and decision-making (S6). Female farmers cultivate on average about 0.6 hectares of land, compared to the national average of more than one hectare (S47) In Tanzania, unmet family planning needs average 22-25% among women aged 15-49 (S45). Luckily, donors are increasingly committed to invest in women and girls (S48). Tanzania also has sources of renewable energy with great potential to reduce dependence on firewood and charcoal and free up women’s time for other priorities (S25). More women studying and entering the workforce will increase uptake of basic services, like reproductive health, reducing food and income insecurity for families living on the edge.

Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).

Zena and her husband Mashauri both wake at dawn. Through her smartphone, Zena checks for information on weather, watches a technical guidance video from the agricultural department, and compares today’s local and national market prices with recent trends. The rainy season is late, and she is concerned about drought. She will meet her producer collective later today and this will be high on the agenda. Mashauri will spend the day at the Forest Stewardship Council’s quarterly meeting.

As her children wake up – a boy, 12, and a girl, 15, – Zena remembers to pay school fees from her digital savings wallet. The children quickly fetch water from the solar pump outside their home, which they pay for through a mobile app. The family sits together for breakfast, eating local organic fruits, grains, and milk from the small fridge powered by the turbine grid. Zena uses the family solar panel to charge the family’s devices.

Ahead of today’s producer collective meeting, Zena calculates her likely profit for this harvest. The collective then agrees a price range for bulk negotiation with wholesalers (via the Chomoka marketplace app, through which they also purchase inputs in bulk directly from manufacturers). Some profit will be invested in repairing their collective pond irrigation system – critical in the face of late rains and for high-nutrient vegetables. Finally, the group confirms a tractor rental through Rent4Ag and concludes this year’s climate vulnerability assessment.

Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?

By 2050, the Ihemi food system and the ecosystems on which it depends will be resilient and adapted to climate change, relying on high-quality climate information for decision making; participatory land use planning to guide zoning decisions and ensure sustained ecosystem service flows; and equitable water management and allocation.

Climate data for adaptive decision-making

Farmers will use downscaled climate data and projections to make adaptive decisions at local scales. The Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) has already prioritized provision of climate services at the national and local level in its national framework for access to climate services (S42). Organizations like CARE will support community adaptation action plans to minimize climate risks in agriculture through use of the projections from climate agencies and local knowledge (S22). Indeed, in southern Tanzania, through participatory scenario planning, the Alliance helped communities and local governments use such data to improve decisions on crop and seed selection, including how much of each crop type and variety to plant so as to mitigate the risk of total crop loss due to severe weather events (S46).

Widespread use of local Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) can rehabilitate soil

CSA practices tailored to local conditions will be widespread by 2050. In areas of climate variability like Ihemi, CSA is an approach to tackling localized, climate-related risks to agriculture by improving soil and water management and increasing productivity sustainably. Alliance experience with producer groups, called Farmer Field and Business Schools (FFBS), shows that CSA practices help small-scale farmers become more resilient to climate variability by combating land degradation, rehabilitating soils, and enhancing nutrients for agricultural production. In an Alliance project in southern Tanzania, farmers using CSA and improved seeds from 2016-19 saw sesame production rise 240% (S42). With CSA practices, agrochemical and inorganic fertilizer use in Ihemi will fall by more than half, improving not only soil but also human and ecosystem health in 2050.

Participatory land use planning for zoning decisions and sustained ecosystem service flows

Development strategies that reconcile emerging conflicts over land and natural resource use, and provide local communities with secure rights and tenure, are critical to the resilience of vulnerable ecosystems and people. By 2050, at least 95% of the villages in Ihemi will have VLUPs, and 50% of households will have secure land rights. Participatory VLUPs enable zoning of areas for diverse uses, from residential areas and social services to forest, water and wildlife reserves, and agriculture. Zoning decisions lay the foundation for community action and sustainable livelihoods for generations. VLUPs enable improved decision-making and open new opportunities, such as individual land titling and community investment planning. Integrated land and water-use planning improve the management outcomes for both. Degraded land can be rehabilitated for cultivation with reduced use of water resources, such as with drought-resistant crops. Paired with CSA that increases productivity at the field level, such zoning will reduce the opening of new plots for agriculture and decrease emissions associated with agricultural expansion.

Equitable water management and enhanced efficiency mitigate climatic variability

By 2050, participatory water allocation plans at the sub-catchment level will provide an equitable water-access system for all, from small-scale farmers and wildlife, to agro-processing and hydropower plants. Small-scale farmers will have formal water use rights and increased efficiency through improved irrigation. The Rufiji Basin Water Board, district environment officials, water users’ associations, community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) committees, and private investors will collaborate to assess river health and share information with village and district councils. The Alliance’s innovative VLUP pilot in Ihemi’s Ndembera sub-catchment shows the feasibility of this model. By engaging diverse constituencies at the local level, communities, particularly water users such as women, have acted to conserve 101 of 111 water sources by planting more than 10,000 water-friendly trees. After less than two years, 10 community income-generating initiatives are benefiting from increased water flows, even during the dry season (S9). Alliance experience in Ihemi suggests that empowering the district government and village land use committees with knowledge, skills, and tools enables them to plan for improved land and water resource management that will make water allocation more equitable for future agriculture and other uses. Improved water management will also support wildlife and nature-based tourism, which will be important for off-farm jobs.

Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?

In 2050, the Ihemi food system is community-centered and multi-dimensional, achieved through the practices and collaboration of food producers, post-harvest handlers, food processors, food distributors, and consumers. It delivers improved nutrition and health at household, community, and regional levels by ensuring that value chain and market actors deploy valuable knowledge and practices, and that policies, regulations, and investments across the production-to-consumption continuum are supportive.

The quality, quantity, and variety of foods in household diets meets physiological and physical nee and supports good health. Women continue to play a key role in linking food systems to household nutrition and also play a very active role in ensuring a diversified food basket, as the system ensures equal space and voice in the labor market and in the relevant institutions and processes. Men assuming more household labor responsibility is a key dimension of this.

Consumption of diverse nutrient-rich foods through increased household production

Outputs by small-scale farmers are increased such that the marketplace offers affordable, diverse and nutritious produce. These foods contain high levels of vitamins and other nutrients and are high value crops in the market. The food system is thus both more nutrition-sensitive and market-oriented.

By 2030, each village has a collective learning, saving, and land management model, founded on the principles of the Alliance’s FFBS model in 2020, which ensures knowledge exchange and collective market access. Exchange is facilitated by the agricultural extension service and covers demand-driven subjects including home gardening (building on current keyhole and sack gardening techniques), small livestock management, integrated crop/pest management systems, seed preservation, composting or use of organic manure, food processing, preservation, and marketing. FFBS has seen an average of $31 return on $1 investment (S8) and upwards of 33% average increases in yield (S13). By 2050, these practices are ubiquitous, and the techniques being taught are second or third generation to those we see now. Households therefore maximize their income potential and have year-round access to nutrient-dense foods.

The link with the agriculture extension service is virtual but ensures a continuous and active connection between farm households and the government framework. Production, too, is driven further by digital technology, and models building on CARE’s experience with Chomoka – a digital marketplace app—enable immediate access to information on profitable markets, inputs and input prices, and weather forecasts. Chomoka supports savings groups and gives women in particular a low-risk entry point into the digital economy and a path to formal financial inclusion (S4).

Increasing community nutrition awareness

By 2050, Tanzanians will value healthier and more nutritious food, both for personal and commercial worth. Collective models (such as FFBS and microcredit groups of 2020) – by now rooted in innovative digital engagement techniques – will be the major conduit of behavior change communication. This will be driven by strategic partnerships with institutions like the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre, district governments, and technology partners. Coordinated multi-media and digital campaigns broadcast to the public in the 2020s through digital, SMS, and 3-2-1 services result by 2030 in the normalization of desired behaviors like male engagement, exclusive breastfeeding, water, sanitation and hygiene practices and dietary diversity. By 2050, households easily access content through their phones on nutritious diet, promoting recipes and methods that boost nutritional value of common dishes, creating a healthy and affordable shopping list, teaching the importance of a varied diet and safe food preparation, highlighting disease-specific diet regimes, and countering harmful cultural practices.

Enabling policy environment

The vision is facilitated by advocacy and partnership from a wide range of stakeholders, including community leadership, which fosters key relationships, policy, and investment. It is grounded in the National Multisectoral Nutrition Action Plan, an initiative that began in 2016 and has been strengthened as collaboration, investment, and buy-in from key market, policy and private stakeholders improved over time. In 2020, government allocation of budget significantly under-prioritizes nutrition, despite the fact that malnutrition imposes large current and future human, economic, fiscal and social costs, such as child stunting, which reduces cognitive development and lifetime earnings. (S15.) In 2020, government-led nutrition behavior initiatives are limited, but by 2050, active citizenship and social movement has led to a transparent, inclusive NMAP which has successfully prioritized household nutrition.

Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?

By 2050, many farmers in Ihemi will have transitioned from subsistence to commercial agriculture. They will run profitable enterprises while providing effective ecosystem stewardship. As small agribusinesses thrive and local industry matures, new jobs will be created, particularly for women.

Agribusiness mainstreams IGG

Private sector mainstreaming of IGG in business models will drive transformation. Since 2017, 32 companies in Ihemi have adopted the IGG scorecard developed by the Green Reference Group (GRG), a SCL advisory group including CARE and WWF (S34). The scorecard guides investors to include environmental sustainability and social inclusion, including women’s empowerment, in their operations. From farmer cooperatives to large investors, agribusinesses in Ihemi will engage in continuous improvement from 30-80% compliance with IGG principles in 2019 to 90%+ IGG compliance by 2050 (S35). This will result in more green jobs with decent wages. Company linkages with small-scale producers will be increasingly facilitated through direct purchasing, reducing farmer input and aggregation costs while increasing access to international markets. Today, DL Group, a large tea company, engages 7,000 farmers in an out-grower scheme across four estates in Njombe (S5). Similar models of mutually beneficial relationships will be adopted at scale to achieve our vision.  

Cutting the gender gap in access to technology, information, and credit

In 2050, all farmers in Ihemi will have technology to access key information. Like today’s FFBS, producer cooperatives will respond to the specific needs of women farmers and also engage men in changing social norms that inhibit women’s engagement in markets. The division of labor will be more equitable, with men assuming more responsibilities at home and on the farm.  As Tanzanian culture also shifts toward valuing sustainably produced nutritious food, local farmers will grow micronutrient-rich crops like beans, fruits, and vegetables. This will also promote diversification and result in more quality on-farm employment. Job growth will occur around certification and branding of sustainable produce, including labelling of local and organic food.  

In 2050, small-scale farmers will have short-term financing to cover immediate needs and long-term financing to invest in land improvement, warehousing, and mechanization. Individual and collective investments from savings groups will be instrumental, especially for female farmers. Formal financial institutions will also develop financial products that are tailored towards the needs of the rural poor. In Tanzania, CARE has already linked 16,000 informal Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) to bank accounts, with linked groups experiencing 80% higher balances (S2, S3). As financial service providers engage with women-led producer groups, new jobs will open up in fintech, research, and data analytics.

In Ihemi, decent work for all will be ensured through policies that promote investments in sustainable food value chains, protect local businesses, and incentivize participation of women and youth. The food supply chain in Ihemi is currently being transformed to incorporate innovations that improve equity; for instance, labor and energy saving technologies are reducing time poverty for women. By 2050, the wide adoption of sustainable practices and mechanization will create additional jobs requiring specialized knowledge, such as agroecology. Agricultural entrepreneurs will create jobs in seed multiplication, agronomy, and equipment leasing. For instance, in an Alliance project in southern Tanzania, a farmer trained in seed multiplication made $2,500 in her first year in business (S46). Similarly, improvements in post-harvest storage, handling practices like cold storage solutions, and small-scale processing like drying, fermenting, packaging, and branding will create new local start-ups. The green development of transportation infrastructure will also create new jobs that support farmers’ access to urban and regional markets.

A growing nature-based economy absorbs subsistence farmers

Rich with biodiversity, Ihemi’s growing ecotourism and other nature-based enterprises will be a growing source of employment. By 2050, men and women alike will excel in well-paying jobs in a booming ecotourism sector. Today, in the wildlife corridor between Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks, the Chem Chem Safari private tour operator has hired and trained 120 staff from the local villages (S51). Employment will similarly grow in the lodges of Mt Udzungwa and Ruaha National Parks and the Isimani Stone Age Sites. Community sustainable development activities will also be scaled up. VLUPs in Ihemi will facilitate supplemental income generating opportunities, such as through Participatory Forest Management. By 2050, women and youth will be engaged not only in ecotourism and forestry, but also in tree nurseries and honey production

Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?

In 2050, the food system will support, and be supported by, flourishing cultural, spiritual and community traditions in Ihemi. Tanzania’s Development Vision 2025 promotes traditional and empowering values that drive IGG processes and outcomes (S33). This government framework draws on Tanzanian values of self- and community-development, social cohesion, and entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, a reemergence of positive traditional values will be visible; already in 2020, stakeholders are integrating modern biodiversity and agricultural practices with indigenous practices that promote a sustainable and holistic relationship with nature.

Traditional beliefs protect biodiversity, including local food practices

Traditional beliefs and rituals will continue to co-exist alongside dominant Christian and Islamic traditions. Community resources in Ihemi will be protected against over-exploitation: Nyumbanitu forest, for example, is considered a sacred place and remains untouched. By bringing brews and meats as sacrifice, people pay homage to their ancestors – incarnated in Ihemi’s nature as trees or rocks. Tanzania also has a rich repertoire of traditional foods, spices, herbal beverages and cuisine, many of which are at a great risk in 2020 of disappearing because they are not integrated in the mainstream food system. Herbs and spices that take time to find or grow and have low yield, combined with lengthy clay pot cooking techniques, mean that as domestic labor tasks have increased, investment in these practices has dropped (S30, S44.) Yet nearly 70% of people still seek traditional healers and herbs, while continuing to use modern medicine (S39). By 2050, the regeneration and integration of traditional ecological knowledge of indigenous food and herbs with Western science will ensure cultural protection and enhance the availability of nutritious food and effective medicines, potentially even mitigating future pandemics like COVID-19.

Gender equity accelerated through food system

By far the greatest cultural shift by 2050 will be in the social construct of gender, where more fluidity and balance will exist between the roles of men and women in family, business, and community decision-making and leadership. While women have always been involved in production, their traditional dominion remained in the household, while men were the primary custodians of production and trade. Women remain the gatekeepers of nutrition security and dietary diversity for their households—a critical role in the Iringa and Njombe region where over half of children under five suffer from stunting (S28). In 2020, savings and producer groups are enhancing the financial and entrepreneurial position of women. Social norms are beginning to shift as women upskill, enter the market, and engage in community leadership and decision-making.

By 2050, the knowledge, behaviors, and practices of both women and men will change, resulting in more equality and reduced levels of gender-based violence. Rights-based initiatives will deliver capacity building and advocacy in support of women’s groups and duty bearers, increasing the role of women in decision-making and their control over productive assets. At the household and community level, women will continue to enhance their financial autonomy through women-led and -inclusive collectives by investing in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), such as bio-fortified and improved seed production, herb cultivation and traditional meal preparation, and value-added agro-processing. In 2050, women’s expanding roles across the food system and economic empowerment will reinforce women’s traditional roles in food preparation and provision, ensuring greater resources will be directed toward girls’ nutrition and education, among other investments in gender equity.

Inclusive governance reinforces positive cultural values

Political processes that promote women’s participation are on the rise, signaled by the country’s first Women and Gender Development Policy in 2000; by 2020, 37% of the nation’s parliamentarians are women (S24). Such cultural shifts reflect an enabling policy environment, where IGG principles are mainstreamed into both community and regulatory planning, and multi-sectoral investment action (across agriculture, environment, nutrition, etc.) reflects commitments to food system transformation. By 2050, informal governance structures and norms, including customary rights, will have evolved to become more inclusive without compromising positive cultural values and stewardship traditions. In our Food Vision, citizens have equal access to and benefits from natural resources, food, and traditional knowledge, as well as opportunities, markets, and decision-making.

Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?

The rapidly evolving use of technology is already transforming every aspect of food production in Ihemi. In 2050, technological solutions that conserve the environment and increase efficiency will be widely accessible to all farmers.  These technologies will also advance other aspects of our vision, such as women’s empowerment; for example, renewable energy relieves women of the burden of gathering firewood and allows girls to do schoolwork at night.

Renewable energy tailored to small-scale farmer needs

By 2050, renewable energy solutions will be widely accessible to rural enterprises and households across Ihemi. Adoption of efficient technologies and appliances can increase food production and reduce post-harvest losses, but many have a large environmental footprint and are not customized for small-scale farmers. Across Africa, renewable energy innovations like microgrids, small-scale wind turbines, hybrid solar-biomass power, and off-grid solar solutions are emerging (S43). For instance, Mwenga Power is developing 2.4 megawatts of wind capacity to promote rural electrification and enhance agriculture productivity and value addition (S53). The government and private sector will make such technology accessible to farmers through innovative rental and financing schemes, accelerating irrigation, cooling/refrigeration, and agro-processing. As renewable sources of heat and power for food preservation significantly reduce food loss, local enterprises, such as grinders, mills, and processers, will thrive (S18).

Water-smart technologies increase efficiency and sustainability

By 2050, water-smart technologies, such as low-cost, solar-powered drip irrigation, are reliable and effective technologies that will be widely used across Ihemi. Irrigated agriculture for small-scale farmers is key to achieving food and nutrition security. Today in Ihemi, surface water irrigation is more common than groundwater irrigation, with river diversions irrigating fields by furrow or flooding, but this practice causes substantial water losses, disrupts river flows, degrades riverbanks, and encourages destructive cultivation along riverbanks and in river bottoms. By 2050, the vast majority of Ihemi’s small-scale farmers will use solar-powered water pumps in lieu of petrol- or diesel-powered pumps, reducing GHG emissions and cutting costs. Increasing crop productivity while reducing the amount of water applied means producers will often irrigate under severe-to-moderate drought conditions during at least part of the growing season. Low-cost drip irrigation, such as drum-drip or bucket-drip systems, increases water use efficiency to 90% compared to surface and hand irrigation and cuts cost by 24% (S19). In 2050, improved timing and reliability of seasonal forecasts and hydrological monitoring will enable farmers to make better use of climate information, take pre-emptive actions, and minimize the impact of extreme events. Weather stations will monitor irrigation in accordance with the water requirements of crops, automatically adjusting irrigation to climatic changes.

As the Great Ruaha River and its tributaries continue drying (S21), additional technologies will contribute to the resilience of the rural poor, including farmers. Rainwater harvesting technologies will be crucial for farmer climate adaptation to increasingly variable and unpredictable weather patterns. Adoption of rainwater harvesting will reduce pressure on the Ruaha, increasing water access for livestock and vegetables during the dry season. Adoption of CSA techniques will build organic material in soils so that soils retain more moisture; along with adoption of drought-resistant seeds, this will reduce the need for heavy irrigation. Finally, solar-powered water supply systems equipped with smart water-dispensing technology are a viable solution to poor water management and supply issues in Ihemi that impact domestic consumption. Such technology has not only improved water management by Tanzanian Water User Associations (WUAs) by 30%, but has also, on average, improved water quality by 62% and water access for domestic use by 53%.

Widespread use of ICTs as a gamechanger

Likewise, internet and communication technologies (ICTs), particularly mobile technology, will also have a transformative impact on lives and livelihoods of Ihemi SMEs and households. By 2050, ICT use will be widespread amongst poor and vulnerable smallholders and other rural users. Already, 81% of Tanzanians use mobile phones, including significant use in rural areas (S40). Such technologies will provide localized climate information, instant access to banking, credit services, insurance, weather projections, information on pest control and nutritional best practices, and real-time market prices. Access to mobile phone technology will also facilitate peer learning, business development training, and faster adoption of agroeconomic best practices.

Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?

In 2050, IGG will be the guiding framework for all Ihemi stakeholders. Government policies will incentivize public and private sectors and citizens, including producers, to integrate social inclusion and environmental sustainability in their day-to-day activities. By 2050, adequate budget allocation and participatory approaches will ensure that policymaking is responsive to the needs of the rural poor and its implementation, effective.

GoT investments will enable adequate policy enforcement and provide incentives for farmers and companies to adopt inclusive IGG principles and activities. By 2050, CSA mainstreaming in national agricultural policy will lead to widespread adoption of nature-based solutions, such as agro-ecology and -forestry, mitigating GHG emissions, fostering adaptation and resilience (S50). In southern Tanzania, the Alliance trained agricultural officials and paraprofessionals on CSA guidelines, influencing the district to increase the budget for rollout across five districts (S16). Similar training of extension agents will accelerate best practice adoption by farmers at scale. Government incentives for corporations to engage small-scale producers through direct purchasing agreements and similar measures will stimulate mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and large buyers, ensuring sustainable production practices, improved yields and crop prices, and better nutrition.

GoT’s 2025 strategies for agricultural development, poverty reduction, and gender provide a roadmap for inclusive sustainable growth that alleviates poverty and improves nutrition security (S26, S27). By 2050, the most effective approaches will be mainstreamed across all ministries. Small- to large-scale companies in Ihemi will benefit from continued improvement of the business environment, including trade and tax policy (S50). Tariffs on inputs, farm implements, and mechanized technologies will be reduced for small-scale farmers, as will exports to neighboring countries for agricultural products. GoT will also enable vocational training for farmers unable to compete in the commercial agriculture sector that need to transition to ecotourism and other jobs.

In the face of agricultural transformation and demographic change, a policy framework that supports a mosaic of land uses, including protected areas, is critical to ensure ecosystems and their services are preserved. In 2050, 95% of villages in Ihemi will have VLUPs, ensuring secure land rights for at least 50% of farming households. Taking VLUPs to scale will build on integrated land and water planning innovations the Alliance piloted in Ihemi. In 2018, advocacy to the National Land Use Planning Commission led to improved VLUP planning guidelines and an unprecedented budget allocation of USD $2M for national rollout. (S9.) In 2050, better implementation of regulations will enhance the rural poor’s ability to develop village investment plans, enabling collective investments that leverage investor finance to realize their vision. More coordinated land and water policy will also ensure that sub-catchment level water allocation plans are developed and enforced.

GoT policies will support natural capital accounting, carbon markets, and jurisdictional sustainability certifications. Infrastructure, like roads, will be planned to avoid habitat disruption without compromising access to tourism, forestry plantations, etc. Such areas will provide essential ecosystem services, while offering business opportunities in nature-based tourism and sustainable production of timber at commercial and community scales. Enabling policies for CBNRM already exist: Tanzanian law dictates that 95% of revenues from timber harvested under Participatory Forest Management remain in the community, split between reinvestment in forest management and community development initiatives (S12). Nearby crops will benefit from ecosystem services, such as water provision and pollination, while communities will benefit from collective investments, like water pump installation.  

Iringa and Njombe regional governments will be key drivers of inclusive and sustainable transformation of the agriculture- and nature-based economy in Ihemi. Multi-stakeholder platforms, feedback, and co-creation mechanisms will ensure that communities are heard and their needs incorporated into development planning, policy formulation, implementation, and enforcement. Strong CBOs, such as inclusive WUAs and producer and marketing groups, will effectively represent their members in negotiations with government and the private sector. The Alliance used a Community Scorecard approach in southern Tanzania to allow the CBNRM committee to register concerns about how forest and financial resources were managed and to hold district environment officials accountable (S8). By 2050, such mechanisms will exist at multiple scales, driving greater accountability, political will, and budget for policy implementation.

Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.

As climate change impacts intensify, sustainability will be a critical leverage point for delivering the Ihemi 2050 Vision. For example, reduction in demand for irrigation water outside of wetlands, and in turn cultivation in wetlands, as well as reducing the need to open new fields from primary forest, will be critical. Our vision for environmental and socio-economic sustainability is that, by safeguarding ecosystems and increasing productive flows, farmer’s yields and incomes can grow.

Graduating out of poverty will have far-reaching impacts. As households increase savings through improved income and mobile banking, investments in household and productive assets grow. Greater collateral increases access to credit, creating a virtuous cycle for increased investments in income generation activities and increasing resilience to diverse shocks and stresses. For small-scale farmers, access to savings and credit can bridge the food and income deficit during annual seasons of food shortage, thus smoothing consumption and improving nutrition outcomes.

Association building and the empowerment of marginalized groups are additional leverage points critical to delivering the vision. Whether formal producer cooperatives, VSLAs, CBNRM organizations, or women’s and youth organizations, community-based organizations (CBOs) are vital to enhancing local capacity and ownership. CBOs also increase the social capital necessary to work through inevitable trade-offs that may exist as a community negotiates, both internally between sub-groups and with external stakeholders, to achieve often competing visions for the future. Producer associations and digital marketplaces enhance collective bargaining power, increasing the ability of small-scale farmers to gain fair prices. Women’s empowerment in private and public decision-making, including economic, family planning, and natural resource management decisions, has many impacts. As women, men, and youth begin to influence community decisions and understand their natural resource use and civic rights, they are more likely to demand the accountability of duty-bearers, especially the government, in fulfilling those rights.

Government and private sector policies are lynchpin in creating the enabling conditions for an inclusive and sustainable future in Ihemi. Political will is critical for enabling participatory, science-based natural resource management that delivers equitable and sustainable outcomes. Economic and tax incentives that encourage banks, agribusiness, and farmers to engage effectively and put greater value on natural capital will forerun many of the new relationships and benefit flows envisioned for Ihemi by 2050.  Similarly, changes in tax and investment policies can increase the competitiveness of domestic produce and shift cultural attitudes to both food system practices in ways that create space for women and drive inclusive and sustainable economic growth and food and nutrition security.

Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.

Ecological impact of intensified agriculture and a growing population

Experts believe that intensification and efficiency gains will enable production to meet the demand of a population expected to triple by 2050 (S31). As farmers’ access to technologies and markets increase in parallel, so too will opportunities for producing, processing and selling cash crops and value-added products. This surge in productivity is likely to drive harmful practices such as deforestation and monocropping and create stresses on soil quality and water supplies.

CSA mitigates these risks by increasing water retention of soil and emphasizing integrated pest management. Integrated VLUPs and WUPs optimize land use by creating agricultural zones in areas with productive soils, and protected zones, such as for native vegetation along rivers and streams. Such landscape and catchment planning are critical foundations of IGG; however, there are potential trade-offs between environmental sustainability and food and income security for poor farmers and other vulnerable groups. Increased enforcement of national regulations and village by-laws, such as the prohibition of wetland cultivation, may force farmers off illegal land plots, threatening their livelihoods.  

Maintaining food and economic security through sustainable growth

Increased demand and market access may undermine household nutrition diversity, as farmers invest less in growing nutritious crops for consumption and favor low-diversity cash crops. Global trends suggest that rising incomes may drive consumption of processed foods and the associated obesity risk. Demand for meat across the region is also expected to rise from 9.4 kg in the late 1990s to 13.4 kg per capita annually by 2030—a healthy protein intake that comes with a negative environmental footprint, particularly if beef predominates (S54). Policy is therefore key to safeguarding critical biodiversity from habitat conversion. From the NMNAP to local awareness raising and seed availability, nutrition mainstreaming is also vital to counteract these potential trade-offs.

Finally, as technology reduces the labor requirements throughout the value chain, the most vulnerable small-scale farmers are likely to be pushed out of the sector, leading to outmigration and more poverty among migrants in city slums and among those left behind. Men’s unemployment has been correlated with greater marital strain, including gender-based violence (S1). Women’s economic empowerment will act as an important safety net for these families, improving the flow and distribution of scarce resources.  

Growth policies supporting agricultural and non-agricultural sectors will be essential to improving sustainable alternative income opportunities for the vulnerable. Renewable energy, sustainable forestry, and ecotourism are key sectors for further sustainable investment, because they will increase demand and competition for both land and water among diverse users.

3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?

By 2023:

District authorities will increase allocation of the budget for agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and land use planning. This will allow the government and other partners (companies, NGOs and CSOs) to increase their investment and better implement enabling policies, such as contractual farming, extension service, input supply, and infrastructure.

Accelerate adoption of IGG practices by improving the inclusivity and functioning of the Ihemi Cluster GRG. Progress toward our vision requires the efforts of all stakeholders; CBNRM groups, including village land use committees and WUAs, do not currently participate in the structures promoting IGG. To be effective, the Ihemi GRG must become an independent institution, with the ability to accrue and invest resources for promoting and fostering compliance with IGG principles. Through a more inclusive Ihemi GRG, all five district authorities and 50% of private and civil society stakeholders in Ihemi will mainstream IGG principles into their policies and practice by 2023.

Small-scale farmers leveraging mobile phones to access and use critical information for improved agricultural and financial decision-making will triple. Small-scale farmers, especially women, will be more vulnerable as climate change impacts accelerate. To mitigate the impact of climate-related stress and reduce agriculture market vulnerability, 30% of farmers in Ihemi will enroll in the TMA weather alert portal to directly receive headlines and forecasts directly through their mobile phones. Similar use rates of the Simbanking app will also reduce risks associated with theft of VSLA cash boxes that hold group savings. Adoption of the Chomoka app will also link them with market and financial information, increasing their financial decision-making, access to credit, and bargaining power.

10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?

By 2030:

Half of Ihemi villages will have VLUPs. Inclusive and sustainable land use planning is vital to reducing habitat degradation and ensuring equitable access to land and water as the population grows. Integration of water planning into the VLUP process will ensure those communities access to water for domestic, livestock, and agricultural use. VLUPs also offer long-term benefits to marginalized communities and sub-groups, such as women and youth, by protecting access rights to water and land from prospecting by large-scale investors.

Accelerate IGG compliance through an IGG certification and an annual Green Growth Award. This prestigious award will recognize best-in-class investors and farmers that effectively mainstream IGG.  The IGG certification will be awarded to those that meet standards to minimize their environmental footprint. Together, these tools will incentivize companies and farmers to accelerate adoption of CSA and renewable energy technologies that increase agricultural productivity and stimulate the agro-processing subsector without contributing to GHG emissions and natural resource degradation.

Improve inclusivity and functioning of CBNRM committees to drive sustainable development. CBNRM committees will be critical drivers of IGG at the community level. Today, they are male-dominated, highly dependent on NGOs for finance, and lack necessary institutional and technical capacity. Female-dominated VSLAs - effective vehicles for increasing social cohesion, income, and climate resilience (S23) - will be integrated into CBNRM committees. By 2030, women will be valued leaders and CBNRM committees’ institutional governance and capacity for science-based natural resource management will be strengthened; their access to financial capital will also be enhanced through the introduction of nature-based enterprises, like beekeeping.

If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?

Build a dashboard to track and drive joint progress

The CARE-WWF Alliance and SCL have a long-term ambition to transform agriculture and food systems to improve the lives of millions of people in SAGCOT while safeguarding environment and wildlife. The Ihemi Food Vision provides the Alliance and partners a framework to achieve that ambition. Realizing our Food Vision will require support and participation from many stakeholders. Luckily, multi-stakeholder platforms like the Ihemi GRG offer a space in which to do so. Developing a user-friendly dashboard with key indicators will allow stakeholders to assess progress and make decisions. Due to the importance of this tool in driving progress on our Vision, a portion of the funds would be used to design the tracking system and dashboard, and to collect the baseline data.

Policy advocacy to mainstream IGG by 2050

The Ihemi Food System Vision requires a conducive policy framework to be effectively implemented. The Alliance will use part of this funding to review the Land Act and finalize National VLUP Guidelines to ensure that they are more participatory and inclusive of women, youth, and water users, and that they take advantage of satellite technology to maximize landscape connectivity for ecosystem integrity, services, and climate adaptation. Evidence-based policy advocacy is critical to updating the Land Act to accelerate VLUP implementation and increase enforcement.

Identify and develop bankable projects for impact investing

Impact investing represents a very promising source of financing for realizing our Food Vision. The Alliance has recognized this for some time, but we do not have the expertise to identify and develop bankable projects. We would dedicate part of the funding to hiring a consultant to help us do this. The consultant would also help us evaluate potential sources of financing.

If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?

SAGCOT was born of the conviction that inclusive and sustainable agriculture will lead to greater economic growth. Economic growth that produces gross inequality and environmental degradation is unacceptable. With our 2050 Food Vision, we hope to show the world a roadmap for fostering agricultural transformation in a way that benefits small-scale farmers while maintaining the natural habitats and ecosystem services foundational to long-term prosperity.

A true agricultural transformation requires healthy and well-functioning ecosystems, healthy people, cultural transformation, enabling policies, and multi-sector partnerships. Stakeholders must come together under a shared commitment to Inclusive Green Growth. Cultural practices that impede the vision must be transformed and those that nourish it, supported. Technology must be brought to bear on key aspects of the food system, and policy must provide the enabling environment to support and encourage change. Tracking our collective progress and holding each other accountable for staying on course is critical to achieving our vision.

Our Food Vision seeks to convey that there is hope for an alternative pathway that adequately supports human and planetary health. There are strong signals that this is already starting to happen in the Ihemi Cluster. Our Vision is a roadmap for gathering and propagating those seeds of change, and systematizing and strengthening them to guide us towards the better future we are committed to creating.

Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.

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Photo of Chris Monaghan

Hi Alexandra,

Well written entry and congratulations on making it to this phase! Our team enjoyed reading through your submission and agree that targeting Inclusive Green Growth (IGG) is a critical leverage point in building a thriving land use ecosystem.

Another thing that interested us was your focus on ironing out land rights to align incentives for women to invest in their land and strengthen their voice within community decision making. We felt that your approach to target local leaders and male champions is a good way to start transforming a community’s belief system. Through the next phase, we think it might be important to highlight:

1) How might generational differences affect communities’ adoption to inclusivity and how might you overcome them?

2) How might this model be challenged in cultures where leadership may push back in its implementation?

All the best!

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