Turning Arusha into a Food Smart City

Turning Arusha into a Food Smart City

Together with the city council, Rikolto will support initiatives to increase food safety in grains and horticulture sectors, leading to better market opportunities for the farmers and healthier food for the people in and around Arusha.

Arusha is located in the northeast of Tanzania, at the foot of Mount Meru. It is the base camp for climbs to the Kilimanjaro and safaris to the Serengeti or one of the other numerous nature reserves in the area. Over the past decades, it has become a medium-sized city with 400,000 inhabitants, a number that keeps increasing every year. The city expects to serve over 2 million people in the future!

Rikolto knows from working in grains, rice, meat and horticulture chains in the Arusha area that there are significant sustainability and public health challenges due to ineffective land planning, few incentives for farmers to adopt more sustainable farm management practices and under-resourced regulatory structures.

The challenges

Tanzania is food secure at the national level according to World Food Programme reports and Arusha City has relatively good food security compared to other parts of Tanzania. However, there are significant challenges expected in the future due to:

  • Rapid urbanization: the Arusha City Masterplan expects the population under Arusha City Council to grow from 416,000 in 2012 to 1.5m by 2035 and 2m by 2050. This is as a result of migration but also from expansion of the City.
  • High water stress: Arusha catchment area is part of the Pangani Water Basin which has renewable water resources of 1,200m3 per capita, which is below global benchmarks for water stressed areas (1700m3). Moreover, water stress is expected to become more severe due to: the expansion of commercial water demand. the growth of demand in urban areas, the irrigation expansion and climate change.
  • Other climate change impacts: which is highly likely to lead to a reduction in yields and changes in crop choices (e.g. maize, coffee).
  • Regional political dynamics which remain fragile and often mean farmers face market shocks due to rapid, unexpected regulation changes e.g. export/import bans.

Our aim is to support Arusha in becoming a Food Smart City, that works towards more sustainable food production, access to food for everyone, diminishing food waste and environmental deterioration. Recently, Arusha City joined the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, signed by 115 cities worldwide, which promotes city to city learning on developing and implementing sustainable Food Policies.

We want to make sure that all food produced in Arusha, especially vegetables and fruits, is safe. The municipality also looks at developing a Food Policy for Arusha together with a wide range of partners

Shukuru Tweve Project coordinator for Food Smart Cities, Rikolto in Tanzania


Rikolto has been working on developing inclusive business within food chains around Arusha for decades. Rikolto knows from working in these food chains that there are significant sustainability and public health problems due to ineffective land planning, few incentives for farmers to adopt more sustainable farm management practices and under-resourced regulatory structures.

Sustainable food systems are those food systems with low environmental impacts, that contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy diets for present and future generations. Sustainable food systems are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as human well-being. They provide culturally acceptable, economically fair, affordable, nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy foods in a way that balances agro-ecosystem integrity and social welfare.

Rikolto East Africa is part of the Global Rikolto Food Smart City Initiative which is working with UNEP, CIAT, ICLEI and others to develop and pilot a Food Systems toolkit for cities such as Arusha.

Discover our international Food Smart Cities Programme

Rikolto has signed a MOU with Arusha City to partner on this initiative up to 2021, with a specific focus on food safety which threatens ecosystems and public health. Specifically, we are planning to start work in 2019 with a focus on the following:

  • Collaborating with UNEP, FAO, CIAT and others to strengthen the multi-sector platform that is emerging

  • Conduct policy baseline assessments for food safety, access to food and local economy as part of our collaboration with ICLEI and FAO

  • Implement innovations within food systems depending on the hotspots identified by the assessment. These will include work on food safety which will build on Rikolto East Africa’s work over the past 4 years in grains and horticulture sectors with sector business associations.

In terms of food safety, we are doing a lot regarding the improvement of our markets so that traders can have safe places to sell their produce and consumers can as well have safe food.

Rebecca Mathias Chief Agriculture Officer, Arusha Municipal

A systemic perspective

As part of the Arusha Food Safety Initiative, actors are looking at:

  • Production: changing farmers’ behaviour towards safe production
  • Consumption: individual and institutional: working on access, affordability and acceptability – health is used as an entry point to change consumption behaviour
  • Infrastructure and markets: KIOSK selling outlets in traditional local markets
  • Enabling environment: national standard, extension services, local food safety regulations
  • Research and technology: evidence-based action, trust building (lab-testing)
  • Socio-economics: fair prices, creating incentives
  • Socio-cultural norms: awareness-raising to increase acceptability of safe vegetables Climate change: supporting renewable-powered drip irrigation to increase availability of safe veggies

We also are collaborating with UNEP through the One Planet Network which uses the Sustainable Food Systems Framework:

Download the framework

pictures : ICLEI/ Paul Currie


Rikolto Tanzania currently works with over 10,000 farmers to support inclusive business development and improvements in food production and trading that address key issues identified by the Arusha Food Smart City initiative, such as environmental management and food safety risks.

We expect to reach 20,000 consumers through the expansion of this initiative once additional funds are secured.

  • Analysis of food safety risks (chemical, biological, physical) throughout the horticulture chain and identification of hotspots
  • Development and deployment of a risk-based communication strategy towards consumers
  • Co-development of a national food safety standard piloted in Arusha’s CRFS -Led by Solidaridad

         -Food Safety Steering Committee providing feedback and piloting
          -Promoted as a voluntary standard 
          -Smallholder farmers as target group
          -Focus on 3 dimensions of sustainability
          -Awaiting to be gazetted by Ministry of Trade
  • Implementation of the KIOSK model: -Physical infrastructure at the markets

           -Information hub on food safety
           -All veggies compliant with national standard
           -Launch of 8 kiosks in July across the city
           -Training 200 food vendors on food safety
  • Input on local regulations and policies on food safety

  • Co-design a tailor-made joint programme to address hotspots and role division for implementation
  • Potential model for the entire country

  • In 2018, we co-initiated the creation of the Arusha Food Safety Committee, a multi-stakeholder platform dedicated to ensuring access to safe food for all Arushans.

  • In 2019, we conducted baseline studies on 3 key elements of Arusha’s food system: the local economy, food safety and access to food.
  • We assist MUVIKIHO in developing an inclusive business model for safe vegetables.
  • We support farmers in implementing good and climate-smart agricultural practices and quality management systems.

Tropical Pesticide Research Institute (TPRI)

Tropical Pesticide Research Institute (TPRI)

Public research institute





Muvikiho, short for Muungano wa Vikundi vya Kilimo cha Horticulture or “Association of Horticultural Groups” is an umbrella of agricultural organisations. With the support of Rikolto they help farmers to join forces so that they can speak with one voice, tackle problems together and become smart entrepreneurs. The group started in 2011 and now has 570 members.

Kain Mvanda
Kain Mvanda
Country Manager Rikolto in Tanzania

Shukuru Tweve
Shukuru Tweve
Senior Agribusiness Advisor