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Chapter 2. Tanzania: who are the farmers of Dar Es Salaam?'

Cumillus J. Sawio

Urban populations arc growing fast because of natural growth and rapid migration to the cities as people escape rural poverty, land degradation, famine, war, and landlessness. Feeding urban populations adequately is a major problem in developing countries. Rural areas do not produce enough food to feed both rural and urban people and food importation is constrained by lack of sufficient foreign exchange. Moreover, imported foodstuffs degrade the local food-production base and introduce foreign food tastes and "unrealistic" consumption patterns.

To meet part of the food needs of poor urban dwellers, urban agriculture (UA), defined here as "crop growing and livestock keeping in both intra-urban open spaces and pert-urban areas," is becoming a common phenomenon in Dar es Salaam and other urban areas in the developing world (see, for example: O'Connor 1983; Sanyal 1984, 1985, 1987; Wade 1986a,b,c; Lado 1990, p. 257; Drakakis-Smith 1991; Freeman 1991; Maxwell and Zziwa 1992; Smit and Nasr 1992; Sawio 1993.)

Urban agriculture has recently become a familiar, almost permanent feature all over tropical Africa and in many developing countries (Sanyal 1985). However, research on this social pattern is limited for five reasons.

- Social scientists and policymakers have difficulties quantifying its impacts (Sachs and Silk 1987);

- Urban agriculture has always been perceived as transitory;

- Urban agriculture was "overlooked as a subject of serious study [becausel] ... this form of urban land-use is seasonal and ephemeral, and so may escape the notice of researchers who concentrate on more visible, permanent forms of urban land use" (Freeman 1991, p. xiii);

- Research concerns among social scientists are often divided; and

- Practicing UA is perceived by elites, bureaucrats, and urban planners as a health hazard and substandard living (Sawio 1993, p. 24).

Although earlier studies assumed that UA was done mainly by the poor, uneducated, and unemployed men and women in urban squatter areas, recent findings show that those involved comprise a complex mix of socioeconomic groups from various backgrounds. This paper attempts to characterize the urban farmers of Dar es Salaam.