The Tanzanian economy is growing. Fast. Economic growth has been hovering around 7% since the mid 1990s and is expected by those who claim to know these things to continue in this vein for some time. This makes Tanzania one of the fastest growing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and represents a refreshing change from the stop-start nature of growth in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that not everyone is benefitting from this growth. We here at Seed Change believe that growth should be about the many and not just the few. In this measure, Tanzania performs far worse.
Poverty still prevails in Tanzania – UNICEF estimates that in 2011 67.9% of the population lived on less than $1.25 a day and that the average Tanzanian’s income was $570 in 2012. Regrettably, there is strong evidence that the rich have been getting richer and the poor have been getting poorer. Inequality of income and of opportunity persists in Tanzania and progress has largely been confined to Dar es Salaam, with much of rural Tanzania unaffected. As such, poverty remains harmfully high and incomes lamentably low. Tanzania is expected to miss many of its poverty Millennium Development Goals.
The experience of developing countries across the world tells us that growth of the economy in and of itself is not sufficient for significant progress in the average person’s standard of living. However, economic growth does represent an opportunity for change and broad-based betterment. This is where organisations like ours come in. By empowering smallholder farmers, Seed Change is providing average Tanzanians with the necessary tools to participate in the country’s economic growth and enjoy the progress they deserve. Seed Change is using a proven method that alleviates poverty; providing people with an asset, in our case high-yeilding palm oil trees, as well as education and support. And because we care about the next generation as much as this one, we make sure this is all done with a focus on sustainability.
By helping smallholders to modernise and move away from subsistence, low-yield farming towards commercially viable,high-yield tress, Seed Change is laying the groundwork for farmers in Kigoma to be empowered actors in the fast-growing global palm oil market. Economic growth is providing the opportunities; Seed Change is providing the means to take them.