4 THE INVESTMENT PLAN
4.3 Priority Investment Areas
4.3.5 Food and Nutrition Security
109. Food and nutrition security takes a number of forms, all of which affect the quality of life and productivity of rural people. Chronic, transitory and emergency food insecurity due to poor agricultural productivity, food inaccessibility and natural disasters all play a role. A 2005 survey found that 15 per cent of households in selected locations were food insecure and another 15 per cent were highly vulnerable. Northern and central regions were worst affected and the level of food insecurity in some areas was high as 45 percent. Food security is highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture which also is susceptible to the vagaries of weather. Therefore there is need to promote and embark on irrigated agriculture and diversification of crops (drought resistant crops) for greater reliability of food supplies.
110. Capacity of strategic food reserves; The issue of strategic food reserves needs to consider: (i) an appropriate level of stocks to hold; (ii) transparent protocols and rules for the acquisition and release of stocks, stock rotation, and the use of financial instruments to complement physical stock-holding; and (iii) policies and procedures for dealing with food price spikes of the type currently being experienced.
111. Malnutrition is one of the most serious constraints to labour productivity and economic growth. Chronic malnutrition is also high with 38 per cent of children less than five years of age being stunted, making it one of the ten worst affected countries in the world and third worst in Africa. Over the last five years (2005 to 2010) the levels of chronic malnutrition and calorie deficiency were only reduced slightly. Malnutrition reduces labour productivity and earning potential most within the agricultural sector where physical stature and body strength are critical. In children, malnutrition often contributes to increased child mortality, and for those who survive, it diminishes their ability to grow, learn and earn a decent income as adults.
112. There will continue to be a proportion of rural households needing special support to help them achieve food security and protect them against shocks, principally droughts. It is expected that advancements in other areas of the TAFSIP will progressively reduce the number of households requiring food aid and other forms of assistance to survive. The effectiveness of targeting social safety net programmes for vulnerable groups will be sharpened, and the prevalence of child and maternal malnutrition is expected to decline. As the size and cost of the safety net programme begins to decline, more resources will be available for disaster risk management including disaster preparedness and mitigation.
113. SO5 also aims at strengthening social protection systems, particularly for the most vulnerable households by improving their food and nutrition security and asset creation while promoting human capital development through education. The National Nutrition Strategy addresses the problem of chronic malnutrition by working with multiple sectors and across government agencies. This recognises that increasing food production alone does not necessarily translate into improved nutrition outcomes. Families must also be provided with information and education about good nutrition and sanitation practices. A national school feeding program will also be supported to improve food intake and increase school attendance.
114. Small, strategic and targeted support can meet the immediate nutritional needs of vulnerable households, buffering them from asset depletion and coping strategies that undermine their long-term resilience. However, emergency support will not shift households out of poverty. Therefore additional interventions such as productive safety net and household asset protection will also be implemented. These measures support productive investment through conditional transfers that provide pathways out of poverty via rural infrastructure development, market access, agricultural productivity improvement, education, healthcare and other services.
115. The Tanzania National Food Centre (TNFC) is currently finalising the National Food and Nutrition Policy. A key policy issue is the need to ensure that significant numbers beneficiaries graduate from chronic food insecurity to enable them to advance towards becoming small-scale semi-commercial farmers under SO5; and for households to improve their knowledge about how to use increasing food availability to improve the nutritional status of their children. Increasing the rate of graduation is contingent upon the rate of progress under the other three strategic objectives and should be responsive to the needs of vulnerable households affected by natural disasters. As such, it is not advisable to prescribe the rate at which social safety net programmes can be scaled down, and to retain the capacity to respond to weather-related and other crises should circumstances deteriorate, for example through a severe and widespread drought or epidemic.
116. There is a need for better integration of dietary diversification and nutrition behavior change into all agricultural sector programmes. This recognises that simply producing more and better food is not sufficient. Rural households, especially the more vulnerable and disadvantaged ones need to understand the importance of diet in overall wellbeing and have the knowledge to use the food that they have in the best possible way. In this context there are potential tensions between policies that encourage agricultural commercialisation (often involving increased specialisation) and the need to maintain diversification of farming systems and diets.
117. Other aspects of food and nutrition policy include food safety and food fortification. Current standards of food safety need to be greatly improved including microbiology, pesticide residues, labelling standards and safe storage and transport. The new food fortification standards for oil, wheat and maize flour need to be enforced. The development and enforcement of standards needs to be balanced with public education on safe food handling practices. This is also important in accessing export markets and will be increasingly important in maintaining a competitive position in the high end of the domestic market. In addition to the above, the following priority areas will be addressed: (i) finalization and implementation of nutrition strategy; (ii) establishment of high level nutrition steering committee in the Mainland ; (iii) effective 2012 designate budget line in the national budget for nutrition; (iv) stronger integration of nutrition into agricultural activities; (v) establishment of nutritional focal point at district level; and finalization and implementation of guidelines related to food fortification. The outcomes that SO4 is expected to influence, and the milestone indicators showing progress towards these outcomes are as well reflected in Annex 1.