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Developing a Comprehensive System for Food Security Monitoring in Tanzania – Stakeholder Workshop

Recognizing the need for efficient and effective food security monitoring that goes far beyond agricultural monitoring, the National Food Security Division (NFSD) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF) hosted a stakeholder workshop on 16th February 2016 at the Blue Pearl Hotel in Dar es Salaam to forge a way forward towards establishing a comprehensive food security monitoring system for Tanzania. Participants included representatives of government agencies, NGOs, universities, the private sector and the donor community involved in food security work as well as the media. 

The workshop served as a platform to present progress on tools for agricultural monitoring that are being tested and developed by the University of Maryland (UMD) and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) working closely with the NFSD-MALF through the AgriSense-STARS project. Since 2014, the AgriSense-STARS project has been designing, testing and developing capacity to use modern remote sensing, smart phone and Internet tools for agricultural monitoring for food security in Tanzania. The data and information collected through the project provide near real-time information that feeds directly into the monthly National Food Security Bulletin.

  • Photo: Participants of the stakeholder workshop at Blue Pearl Hotel, Dar es Salaam Photo: Participants of the stakeholder workshop at Blue Pearl Hotel, Dar es Salaam

The meeting was officiated by the Permanent Secretary for Livestock in MALF- Dr. Yohana Budeba who appreciated the diversity of participants and the efforts the AgriSense-STARS is making to strengthen the Research (Education)-Extension Services-Farmer triangle of Knowledge (figure 1). He noted that there are several challenges of using conventional methods (human and financial resources) — but timeliness and quality of information remains paramount and AgriSense-STARS is working towards that goal.

Figure 1.

Triangle of Knowledge between research (education), extension services and farmers.

Initial discussions on developing an operational and sustainable food security system lead to a broader conversation about the requirements of the different user groups, their needs and abilities to contribute data and efforts to such a system. Prof. Siza Tumbo of SUA pointed out that the necessary investments in information and communication (smartphone) technology (ICT) to support monitoring are comparatively lower in cost compared to conventional methods that require heavy human resources and are time intensive.  

A draft Tanzania National Food Security Bulletin that includes remote sensing and ICT generated information in combination with field data was presented by the MALF team. The draft was well received and recognized as a valuable resource for decision making and increasing accessibility to information even to farmers by feeding into media reports which contribute significantly to MALF’s and other organizations’ missions and to their information dissemination objectives. 

Figure 2. Example of a crop condition map for Tanzania as output of the Crop Monitor tool. Below-average conditions are tagged with driver information.

The representatives of the East African Grain Council recommended integrating information from granaries on food stocks and establishing an agricultural market information system as part of food security monitoring. While FEWSNET, FAO and WFP all showed keen interest in using the field data collected through AgriSense tools in their reporting.  In conclusion of the workshop the participants agreed that a comprehensive food security monitoring system for Tanzania is feasible and needed and expressed strong interest in using the resulting information and in contributing to such an effort.

Participants included representatives of; MALF (NFSD, Early Warning and Planning Department) Tanzania Meteorological Agency, President’s Delivery Bureau (PDB), Tanzania Food and Nutrition Center (TFNC), A Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA), Department for International Development (DFID), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Famine Early Warning System (FEWSNet), East African Grain Council (EAGC), AgriInfo, Citizen News, ITV, Sokoine University of Agriculture, and the University of Dar es Salaam, Mtanzania Newspaper, Guardian Newspaper, Red Cross, Citizens Newspaper, Tanzania News Broadcasting Corporation, East African Grain Council, Rudi-Tanzania and The Prime Minister's Office.