Irrigation holds the key to stabilizing agricultural production in Tanzania to improve food security, increase farmers' productivity and incomes and to produce higher value crops such as vegetables and flowers.
The agriculture sector continues to drive economic growth in the country, contributing 45% of the country's GDP and about 30% of its export earnings, while employing over 80% of the nation's workforce. Annually some 5.1 million hectares are cultivated, of which 85% are under food crops.
The major constraint facing the agriculture sector is falling labor and land productivity because of inadequate technologies and dependence on rainfall which is unreliable and irregular. Both crops and livestock are adversely affected by periodic droughts.
In 2002 there were 1,189 irrigation schemes covering 192,000 ha across the country yet currently less than 10% of the high-medium irrigation potential land is irrigated. Tanzania aims to increase the irrigated area to 7 million ha by 2015 (Figure 1) and raise rice yields from 2 tons/ha to 8 tons/ha.