1. Background

Tanzania’s agriculture is heavily dependent on rainfall but under good weather conditions the country is able to achieve selfsufficiency in food as measured by level of domestic supply of grains. This fact sheet focus on the so-called small grains: sorghum and millet. These grains appear to have a good drought resistance and therefore are ideal in the food security strategy of rural households and for the country.

With improved crop husbandry, there is the potential to produce 714,080 tons of sorghum and 182,052 tons of millet annually. There are over 9 millions hectares of arable land that are highly suited to grain production. Only between 3.0 and 3.5 million hectares are actually used for grain production. Of these area under grains, only estimated around 250,000 ha is under millet and around 650,000 ha under sorghum.

Most grain production still very much rely on the hand hoe and/or ox plough instead of tractor tillage that has the capacity for speedy expansion of cultivated area.

Total grains account for about around 50% of all food produced in the country taking account of production of other food crops like cassava, bananas, sweet and round potatoes as well as legumes, pulses and oilseeds. Probably 10-20% of total grains consumed consist of sorghum and/or millet.

Grains are also the most locally traded of all crops and therefore form a valuable source of income to farm families and to millions of grains merchant al over the country.


Sorghum is the third most important cereal in Tanzania. It is the main cereal grown in the drier parts of the country notably in the regions of per year About 788,000 metric tons of millet is produced annually in an estimated area of 650,000 hectares per annum Areas which are used to cultivate sorghum include: Dodoma, Morogoro, Mwanza, Tanga, Shinyanga, and Tabora account for a high percentage of all sorghum produced in Tanzania. The population in these regions consume substantial amounts of sorghum in their diets. They form a primary market for sorghum.

There is a potentially large export market in the Northern and Western African countries that consume sorghum as a primary staple. Local and international markets can be reached from all key producing regions by using the Central Railway Line connecting to the Dar-es-Salaam port of export.


Millets are the fourth most important cereals. They are produced in smaller quantities but they are widely consumed and traded nationwide. Finger millet is by far the most traded of all millets followed by bulrush millet. Millets are produced mainly in the regions of Dodoma, Singida, Kilimanjaro, Shinyanga and Rukwa. About 225,000 metric tons of millet is produced annually in an estimated area of 250,000 hectares.

The population groups in these regions are large and form a significant part of the local market. Other local markets can be reached either by the central railway line or by road networks. Finger millet is highly demanded in urban areas of Tanzania and Kenya. These markets can be accessed either by railway network or by road from the producing regions. 

Sorghum and Millet Production Statistics

Production of sorghum and millet has gone up in the recent years. Production of millet has more than doubled, while production of sorghum has almost quadrupled (4x) in the last 7-8 years. Productivity of sorghum and millet production has gone up in the recent years. Yield of sorghum has more than doubled, while yield of sorghum has increase by around 50% in the last 7-8 years

 Crops Production per Tonnes per year 2003- 2010

Type of Crops 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Sorghum 198870 757420 714339 711631 971198 861386 709000 788800
Millets 91280 246250 218760 227905 219000 220000 205321 225000

 Source: FAO Statistics


Yield (Kg/Ha) from 2003-2010

Type of Crops 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Sorghum 4423 10863 9691 9941 11874 9593 8110 9738
Millets 4522 7078 7725 8600 8104 7338 6373 6818

Source: FAO Statistics


Gross Production Value (constant 2004 -2006 1000 I$) (1000 Int. $)

Type of Crops 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Sorghum 198870 757420 714339 711631 971198 861386 709000 788800
Millets 91280 246250 218760 227905 219000 220000 205321 225000

 Source: FAO Statistics


Net Production Value (constant 2004-2006 1000 I$) (1000 Int. $)

Type of Crops 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Sorghum 4423 10863 9691 9941 11874 9593 8110 9738
Millets 4522 7078 7725 8600 8104 7338 6373 6818

 Source: FAO Statistics


2. Potential for Investment in Sorghum and Millet. 


  • Expanding the existing area under sorghum production by making use of advanced types of farm mechanization, ox plough and other labour saving technology.
  • Intensification of sorghum production. Yield increase can be achieved by improved agronomic practices making use of adequate amount and type of farms inputs such as improved seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals and extension services.
  • Developing the export potential in countries in North and West Africa, where there is a food shortage of sorghum due to drought (‘desertification’).
  • Introduction, operation and maintenance of tractors and other forms of farm mechanization in sorghum production. Loan repayment is an essential part of the introduction of tractors and other farm mechanization equipment..
  • Agro-processing of sorghum. Milling of sorghum grain into flour for (baby) food ; local beer brewing for drink


  • Expanding the existing area under millet production by introduction of tractors and other forms of labor savings technology such as ox plough and farm mechanization.
  • Intensification of millet production. By improving agronomic practices such as making use of adequate amount and type of farms inputs such as improved seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals and extension services, yields of millet can grow higher.
  • An export potential for millet could be developed in North and West Africa, due drought conditions in that area of Africa, caused by desertification.
  • Introduction or further expansion of farm mechanization tools and equipment in millet production. When tractors are being introduced also attention should be given to operation and maintenance of equipment and loan payment.
  • Grain milling of millet into flour for food consumption.

3. Develop Production and Marketing Infrastructure.

Market Possibilities

  • Due to population growth, the demand for sorghum and millet is growing in the domestic market. Due to limited supply, most sorghum and millet is consumed in the production area. However, there is a growing demand for these grains in the domestic market, as well as in the export market.
  • Aside from North and West African countries, there is also a potential (large) market for sorghum and millet in the Southern African sub region and in Africa as whole.
  • There is potential a (large) market in Europe for organic grains to be used in animal feed mills.

4. Financial needs for Investment in Sorghum and Millet 

Entrepreneurs / farmer groups may seek financial assistance for:

  • Funds for land preparation, especially when tractors or labourers are hired
  • The purchase farm inputs (seeds, fertilizer, agro-chemicals, sprayers).
  • The purchase of tractors and other forms of mechanisation.
  • Purchase transport and equipment.
  • Purchase of brewing equipment for hygienic production of local beer.
  • Purchase of improved processing equipment for sorghum an millet.
  • Storage facilities, post-harvest equipment and packaging material for millet flour.
  • Market Surveys in the sub-sector sorghum and millet.


5. How canPASS help Farmers in the Investment / Intensification of Sorghum and Millet Production and Processing.

  • Through feasibility studies and business plans PASS can assist entrepreneurs access to bank loans (financial linkages).
  • Capacity building of farmers groups and entrepreneur management skills.
  • Training on yield increase and post harvest technology for sorghum and millet.
  • Training in agro-processing: on hygienic beer brewing of sorghum and more efficient grinding of millet into flour.
  • Assist with market research and market linkage for sorghum and millet.
  • Support farmers with inadequate amount of collateral / security for a commercial bank loan.


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