What is the problem?

Written by Leyla Mchawe | Posted on  1 April, 2016.

I was born in a wonderful land of Mwl, Nyerere called Tanzania. The peaceful land, with strong fighters like Kinjikitile "Bokero" Ngwale and Adam Sapi Mkwawa. With the deep fantastic blue Tanzanite, that runs from ultramarine blue to light violet-blue and it found in only one country that is Tanzania. The world’s earliest human skull was found in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. The largest mountain in Africa is called Kilimanjaro and is found in Tanzania. The second largest freshwater lake in volume, and the second deepest, not only that but also the world's longest freshwater lake is called Lake Tanganyika also found in Tanzania. And among the seven natural wonders of Africa, three of them are in Tanzania. Wow! Am so proud to be born in this country.

But despite all this breathtaking beauty of my country, it’s easy to forget that Tanzania is categorized as a least developed and low-income food deficit country. Tanzania has more than 40 percent of the population living in chronic food-deficit regions, where irregular rainfall causes recurring food shortages. The economy in my country is still suffering from low growth, shortage of foreign exchange and agriculture, which is caused by poor availability of credit and equipment. Extreme hunger and malnutrition is still high in my country. The 2010 Global Hunger Index ranks the situation as “alarming”. Children in rural areas suffer substantially higher rates of malnutrition and chronic hunger, although urban-rural disparities have narrowed as regards both stunting and underweight.

I know with all the beautiful things you have heard about my country, it is difficult to believe that large numbers of people could go hungry in a country that relies heavily on agriculture to sustain its economy, but that’s exactly the case here.  Not only does agriculture account for a quarter of Tanzania’s GDP, but also approximately 75 percent of Tanzanians (most of whom are women) are employed by that sector. Yet nearly half of households don’t have access to adequate amounts of food, and Tanzania’s malnutrition levels are among the highest in Africa. Something isn’t adding up.

What is the problem?  Are we exporting all of our food, leaving us to starve?. But I heard that Tanzania is actually considered “food self-sufficient,” meaning that it makes most of the food its people need to live. What is the problem?