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, a level 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.
  • Climate change impacts - Changes due to climate change will highly likely lead to a reduction in yields and changes in crop choices (e.g. maize, coffee).
  • Regional political dynamics - The political framework is fragile and farmers often need to face market shocks due to rapid, unexpected regulation changes (e.g. export/import bans).
  • Poor food safety practices - Around 80 percent of the Tanzanian population is active in agriculture. The farms are small - a few hectares on average - and the yields low. Many farmers don’t have machines, irrigation, adequate seeds, fertilizers or pesticides and the use of crop protection products is often excessive with serious implications for food safety. Farmers who export their products must first go through a certification process to prove that they apply so-called “Good Agricultural Practices” (GAP) but there is no such code of conduct for farmers who only produce for the domestic market.

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

The Arusha Food Smart Cities Initiative

As Rikolto, we aim to support Arusha in becoming a Food Smart City able to lead a shift towards a new, inclusive, safe and sustainable food system by ensuring a protective and respectful of biodiversity and of ecosystems food production, a better access to fair, affordable, nutritionally adequate and safe food for everyone and a reduction of food waste and environmental deterioration. The initiative in Arusha brings together several partners with a common goal: ensure that all the food consumed and produced in Arusha is safe!

In 2015 the 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. In 2018, under the leadership of the Arusha city council, Rikolto and TAHA launched the Arusha Food Safety Initiative.

“A city is not an island. By signing the Milan Pact, we want to learn from other cities about how we can set up a sustainable and resilient food system.”

Rebecca Mongi Chief Agricultural Officer in the Arusha City Council
The International Food Smart Cities initiative

The International Food Smart Cities initiative

The Arusha Food Smart City initiative is part of an International Food Smart Cities programme: Rikolto supports cities in developing sustainable, inclusive, resilient and safe food systems in 6 different countries. The evidence generated from pilot activities with the cities is documented and turned into knowledge which is then mobilised to foster peer-to-peer learning and contribute to international discussions on sustainable urban food systems.

Discover more

The Strategies

  1. Conduct an analysis of food safety risks (chemical, biological, physical) throughout the vegetable chain to identify the hotspots for action
  2. Develop a risk-based communication strategy towards consumers to increase their awareness on food safety issues
  3. Make recommendation of a protocol for the government on how to handle the food safety of fresh fruit and vegetables
  4. Develop a national food safety standard tested in Arusha to guarantee the production of safe vegetables and fruits
  5. Implement the KIOSK model: food stalls in local markets will sell safe vegetables that comply with the food safety national standards and will serve as an information hub on food safety in order to raise consumers' awareness. Moreover, training on food safety will be given to food vendors.
  6. Advice on local regulations and policies on food safety
  7. Jointly develop programme to address hotspots and divide roles for the implementation of the programme
  8. Build an inspirational and scaling up model for the entire country

A systemic perspective

Rikolto endorses CIAT’s definition of sustainable food system:

Sustainable food systems are those food systems that aim at achieving food and nutrition security and healthy diets while limiting negative environmental impacts and improving socio-economic welfare. Sustainable food systems are therefore protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as human well-being and social equity. As such they provide culturally acceptable, economically fair, affordable, nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy foods in a way that balances agro-ecosystem integrity and social welfare.

The several actors involved in the Arusha Food Safety Initiative are looking to all the aspects of the food system:

  • Production: we contribute to a change in farmers’ behaviour towards safe production by implementing sustainable agriculture practices
  • Consumption: we are working on access, affordability and acceptability both at individual and institutional level by using health as an entry point to change consumption behaviours.
  • Infrastructure and markets: we set up the KIOSKs selling outlets in traditional local markets to provide safe vegetables
  • Enabling environment: we work on developing national food safety standards, extension services and local regulations
  • Research and technology: evidence-based action, trust-building (lab-testing)
  • Socio-economics: fair prices and we create incentives
  • Socio-cultural norms: we work on raising awareness around the food safety issue and on increasing the acceptability of safe vegetables
  • Climate change: we support renewable-powered drip irrigation to increase the availability of safe veggies

Pictures : Samson Kapinga and 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.
  • In 2018, Muvikiho members produced 60,000 tons of vegetables for domestic consumption and exported 2,000 tons to Europe.


What will we eat tomorrow?

Food smart cities leading the transition to sustainable food

Between March and August 2019, three journalists from the magazine Eos Tracé visited partner cities of Rikolto's Food Smart Cities programme. During these visits, they interviewed more than 130 people and discovered initiatives that make safer, healthier and sustainable food more accessible to citizens. This book tells their stories from 9 cities in Vietnam, Belgium, Tanzania, Indonesia, Ecuador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Get a soft copy of the book

Milestones in improving Arusha's food system


  • We have been working on circular economy in Arusha by commercializing organic food waste collection, ensuring clean markets that contribute towards food safety as well as creating jobs for youth. Further, together with Mesula, a youth-led business that trains farmers on safe food production and sells their produce in Arusha City, an e-commerce platform was developed that provides a shorter food distribution chain and ensures traceability.

  • The Participatory Food Safety System (PFSS) working group has been working on the initial design of the participatory system that provides a cheap and trustworthy alternative to official certification. It will be piloted in 2022 with a focus on the fruits and vegetable sector in Arusha’s Kilombero and Tengeru markets and working with MUVIKIHO farmers (farmer organisation nearby Arusha City).

  • The Generation Food project's final incubation phase came to an end in 2021. During the incubation, 21 youth-led businesses were coached and mentored. Additionally, 15 youth were capacitated with knowledge on policy, advocacy and communication skills. These youth participated at the national food system summit where they advocated for a better business environment that enables youth to engage in food systems.


  • We transformed the Arusha Food Safety Initiative into the Arusha Sustainable Food Systems Platform (ASPF) because it now gathers interest from various stakeholders to work on broader issues other than food safety only. This platform is made up of actors in the food system, such as public institutions or governments, research and academia, private sector actors, civil society organisations and NGOs. The platform facilitates multi-stakeholder dialogues that address food system change within Arusha. It consists of a steering committee that offers an advisory role to six working groups, which are: Safe production, food safety standards and regulations, consumer sensitization, participatory food safety system (PFSS/PGS), youth in agriculture, and finally city planning and logistics.

  • We worked with platforms members to set up interactive radio campaigns on healthy, sustainable, and nutritious diets to create more awareness about the consumption of these foods. Further, we also engaged TAHA to improve food safety standards of fresh fruits and vegetables at the retail level, especially in the markets, through the adoption of a Kiosk-model. In Arusha, three food stalls were improved and transformed into kiosks.

  • Through the Generation Food project that aims to encourage and support youth to be in the driving seat of sustainable food systems, youth have been trained on business management skills, value chain specific skills through a hackathon (180 youth participated) and a bootcamp (70 youth). These youth have developed sustainable businesses that offer solutions to the pressing food systems challenges in Arusha such as developing eco-friendly packaging of products and eco-friendly food delivery through 100% electric motorbikes.


  • In 2019, we conducted baseline studies on 3 key elements of Arusha’s food system: the local economy, food safety and access to food.
  • Several Kiosk food stalls have been installed in traditional local markets: in the Kiosks consumers are informed about the importance of safe food and they are offered fruit and vegetables from farmers who adhere to the local GAP standard, and farmers get higher and fair price for their products.

“The products in the kiosks will be priced a little higher because of the extra costs for the farmer. Everything stands or falls with a good business model. Working differently costs more money. Farmers, for example, must invest in good storage and transport.”

Mary Mkonyi Country Manager at Solidaridad
  • MUVIKIHO, an umbrella of agricultural organisations is developing, supported by Rikolto, an inclusive business model for safe vegetables. Moreover, several training courses have been organised where farmers learn how to produce better and safer food. We support farmers in implementing** good and climate-smart agricultural practices** and quality management systems.
  • Together with the Tanzania Bureau of Standards, Solidaridad, Rikolto and local partners put together a local Code of Good Agricultural Practice.


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

Arusha City Council

Arusha City Council

Tanzanian Horticulture Association (TAHA)

Tanzanian Horticulture Association (TAHA)

TAHA is a private sector organisation that advocates for the growth and competitiveness of the horticulture industry in Tanzania. Together with Rikolto, TAHA supports farmers in and around Arusha to produce better and safer food.




International NGO

Tanzania Bureau of Standards

Tanzania Bureau of Standards

National regulatory body

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.

Arumeru District Council

Arumeru District Council

Local government

Tanzanian Food and Drugs Administration

National regulatory body



Kain Mvanda
Kain Mvanda
Food Smart City cluster Director in East Africa & Tanzania Country Representative

Shukuru Tweve
Shukuru Tweve
Cocoa Coordinator & Food Smart City & Horticulture Senior Agribusiness-Mbeya, Tanzania Advisor