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Livelihoods and food security in an urban linked, high potential region of Tanzania: Changes over a three year period

Simon Fraval, James Hammond, Mats Lannerstad, Simon J. Oosting, George Sayula, Nils Teufel, Silvia Silvestri, E. Jane Poole, Mario Herrero and Mark T. van Wijk

Agricultural Systems, 2018, vol. 160, issue C, 87-95

Abstract: Ongoing and projected changes to rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are unprecedented in scale and pace. This paper investigates to what extent significant changes in livelihoods, poverty and food security performance are already taking place. The study focuses on households in Lushoto district (n=147), a remote but urban linked area of Tanzania. Within the short time period between 2012 and 2015, 77% of households made changes in farm resources or farm characteristics. Households in the study site can be broadly classified as ‘Rising high value crop’, ‘Rising livestock’, ‘Subsisting mixed’ and ‘Subsisting crops’. Some of the most substantial changes we observed in the three year period of study were most likely not related to any of the agricultural orientated interventions that are being promoted in the region, but are likely endogenous changes. The land expansion seen in the ‘Rising’ households (n=58) provides a counterpoint to the trend established in the literature of decreasing farm sizes across lower income countries more broadly, and specifically in Africa. The strategy of land expansion is risky, potentially representing a future of winners and losers, ultimately with some land-holders falling further into poverty rather than leveraging their agricultural enterprises to improve their well-being. Our results show that in sites like Lushoto with a good rural to urban connection (increasingly common in SSA), households can be agile and diverse and agency interventions are aiming for a moving target. In order to achieve income and food security outcomes, targeted and rapid monitoring tools will be needed.

Date: 2018
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