By Gregg Rapaport, Senior Program Manager, Development Outreach and Communications
On the highest mountain in Africa one finds climbers attempting to conquer Kilimanjaro, as well as those who live in high-altitude villages struggling daily to grow food to feed their families. Small holder farmers use basic hand tools to work the land and have only a gambler’s chance of getting the adequate rain and sun necessary to grow their crops. If all goes well, they may be able to sell part of their harvest at a village marketplace or makeshift roadside display to generate income. This is no small accomplishment, as the tropical heat and wicker baskets used to transport produce to market spoils as much as 40% of each harvest. Summiting Kilimanjaro seems an easier undertaking than farming on its slopes.
The challenges facing small holder farmers are not limited to the mountain region: low-yields, inadequate storage processes and facilities, limited transportation infrastructure, and difficulty accessing credit and markets are problems that small holder farmers experience across much of Tanzania. These contribute to persistently high poverty rates and widespread malnutrition among under-five children (38% stunted and 22% underweight).
Feed The Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, focuses on specific countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Presidential Initiative will lift 18 million vulnerable women, children and family members – mostly smallholder farmers – out of hunger and poverty. In Tanzania, USG assistance supports national strategies to reduce poverty and accelerate progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by increasing agricultural productivity and profitability, and enhancing national and regional food security. USAID brings its technical expertise and capacity to lead Feed the Future in Tanzania and is working closely with other U.S. government stakeholders, including the State Department and USDA, through a whole-of-government approach.
This video explains some of the agricultural and supply chain challenges being addressed through Feed The Future to overcome existing farming challenges and build sustainable infrastructure, processes and market linkages to assist small holder farmers raise themselves and their families out of chronic hunger and poverty.