The changing face of agriculture in Tanzania: Indicators of transformation

June 15, 2020 - Author: Ayala Wineman, Thomas S. Jayne, Emma Isinika Modamba, Holger Kray

Wineman, A., Jayne, T. S., Isinika Modamba, E., & Kray, H. The Changing Face of Agriculture in Tanzania: Indicators of Transformation. Development Policy Review.



The extent to which African farming systems are undergoing transformation continues to be strongly debated.


With a focus on Tanzania, this study assesses whether recent trends in farm behaviour, the structure of farming, and agricultural commercialization and productivity conform to stylized facts about agricultural transformation. In the process, we propose an updated typology of farms that reflects recent changes in the relative importance of different farm categories and sheds light on the heterogeneity found even among smallholder farms.

Approach and methods

To this end, we refer to farm‐household survey data over the period 2008–2014.


We find that medium‐scale farms and small, farm‐focused, commercialized farms are claiming an increasingly prominent role in Tanzanian agriculture. Farmers are more likely to participate in markets for land and labour, to engage in some forms of agricultural intensification and to exhibit a commercial orientation. Over the study period, the real value of agricultural output grew substantially, mostly reflecting a remarkable expansion of cropland rather than increased land productivity. Labour productivity also grew, driven by a reduction in labour intensity. At the same time, Tanzania is experiencing a dramatic movement of labour out of agriculture.

Policy implications

Together, the evidence suggests that Tanzania is on the cusp of larger transformational processes in the decades to come. With this knowledge, policies can be thoughtfully shaped to support agricultural growth (particularly in land productivity) and meet farmers' diverse needs.

Tags: c1-c2, food security group, fsg peer reviewed publications, fsp peer reviewed publications, innovation lab for food security policy research capacity & influence


Thomas Jayne

Thomas Jayne

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