Like many of Sub- Saharan Africa cities, Dar es salaam is among the rapidly urbanizing city. According to recent data by the Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) at present, the city of Dar es salaam has population approximated to six million.
Serving as Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam has a massive population growth of about 5.6 per cent. This means that over 250,000 people are added each year in the city. This rapid growth rate in the city indicates the rising demand for food supply and availability to feed its population.
According to a 2018 study by the International Journal of Agronomy and Agricultural Research (IJAAR), forty-seven per cent of foodstuffs sold in Dar es Saalam local markets of Kigamboni, Tandika, Mwenge, Mawasiliano, Buguruni and Kariakoo to mention but few, were sourced from urban and peri-urban farms around the city.
The study noted that sixty to eighty per cent of vegetables and about fifty-seven per cent of the eggs sold in supermarkets around the city of Dar es salaam were also sourced from urban and peri-urban farms.
The food production in Dar es salaam is taking place in open spaces all around the city. These agricultural open spaces are either privately or institutionally owned land, to which farmers got the right to use through formal or informal agreements with the owners.
In some towns like Mabibo, Manzese, Magomeni, Tabata, Kitunda and Ukonga food production, especially vegetables, takes place on public open spaces like railway reserves or under main power lines due to lack of spaces for farming. The lack of secure spaces in urban areas brings a great challenge for sustainable farming activities in the city.
Other studies suggest that most of the people who engage in urban farming in Dar es Salaam do so for the purpose of obtaining an income and food to ensure their household survive in the city. To these people, farming is their primary economic activity. So the lack of secure spaces and the ongoing trend of diminishing spaces for farming due to building works endanger their food security and income generation schemes.
Despite the contribution made by smallholders on food production to feed the city population, they are facing a lot of challenges. One small farmer from Tabata Bonde la Mchicha, for example, told The Chanzo that there has been serious insecurity around the use of the land. She said that sometimes authorities say that they are using the space illegally. There is also the problem of the farming area itself getting smaller due to the construction of new buildings, according to farmers.
Other challenges that she mentioned included the issue of water supply, as she and her colleagues are forced to depend on seasonal water stream passing through their farms. As she put it: “Some of us can’t afford to dig deep well, no can we afford water pumps for viable irrigation throughout the year.”
Some of the solutions to these problems include the need for the respective ministries – Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries; Environment; and Lands, Housing and Urban Development – to promote and coordinate urban agriculture activities by providing suitable incentives and conducive regulatory environment.
Also, both local and central government should incorporate urban agriculture activities into their development plans to ensure that agriculture is recognized as among major activity in urban and peri-urban areas.