U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Obama administration is increasing funding to improve nutrition in Tanzania, where more than half of pregnant women are anemic.
Secretary Clinton walked through sweet pepper fields along the Tanzanian coast with farmers from the Upendo Women's Group. They are part of a program to help nearly 900,000 small-scale women farmers in Tanzania escape hunger and poverty. “Where women learn the best ways to grow and cultivate their own nutritious food, which they use to feed their children and sell at market, we see progress," she said.
Pending congressional approval, Clinton says the Obama administration will invest nearly $70 million in agricultural development and food security in Tanzania over the next two years.
It is part of a program called Feed the Future which promotes private sector involvement in increasing and diversifying agricultural production with the help of firms including General Mills, Unilever, and Land 'O Lakes.
Clinton says this women's farming cooperative in Kibaha is a model for Africa. "Already, the diversity of crops here is making a difference in the nutritional status of your children. And we think that is a very good result. We hope that you will become not only a model for the country but you will become a model for all of Africa. The women here are pioneers and leaders in changing agriculture across the continent," she said.
Tanzania is mostly self-sufficient in its staple food crop, maize, but yields are significantly lower than in neighboring countries. Prime Minister Mizengo Kayanza Pinda says the government is focusing on improving production in a corridor that stretches from Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa in the west through the center of the country to Dar es Salaam.
“We know very well that improvement in agricultural production is critical for enhancement of standards of living of the rural population in Tanzania. Agriculture in Tanzania occupies a strategic position inspiring growth, overcoming poverty, and enhancing food security," he said.
With one-third of the country living in poverty, Pinda says GDP growth in agriculture is twice as effective at improving living standards as growth in non-agricultural sectors. “Helping farmers to help themselves is more effective and will be several times cheaper than providing them with food aid," he said.
Secretary Clinton also announced more than $6 million in additional funding for Tanzania to improve nutrition during the first 1,000 days from pregnancy to the age of two. “A healthy 1,000 days changes the course of a child's life. And I would argue it also significantly benefits communities and even countries because healthy children who get off to a good start will be more productive members of the workforce," she said.
More than 20 percent of Tanzanian children are underweight. Globally, the State Department says 200 million children do not get enough food to eat and more than three million die each year from chronic undernutrition.