Rural Non-Farm Activities and Poverty Alleviation in Tanzania: A Case Study of Two Villages in Chamwino and Bahi Districts of Dodoma Region

The study assessed the role of rural non-farm activities on poverty alleviation in Tanzania. Specifically, it examined the factors affecting the performance of rural non-farm activities, the mechanisms through which rural non-farm and farm activities are interlinked, and the ways through which rural non-farm activities contribute to poverty alleviation. A cross-sectional field survey was administered to 341 households in two villages in Dodoma Region, and interviews were conducted with key local informants. The main findings of the study were as follows: (i) the principal factors affecting the performance of non-farm activities included inadequate capital, lack of business education, poor business premises, inefficient transport to and from markets, and women’s household gender roles; (ii) rural farm and non-farm activities are interlinked because in most households farm activities provided the capital for starting and running non-farm activities, and non-farm activities provided the income to purchase farm inputs; and (iii) rural non-farm activities contributed a significant share of total income in participating households and enabled these households to purchase food and consumer goods, pay for medicine and health care, pay for the education of children, as well as invest in farm inputs to enhance the productivity of agricultural activities such as crop farming and livestock keeping. The study concludes that rural non-farm activities play an important role in alleviating both income and non-income poverty. Therefore, efforts should be made to promote this sector so as to realize its full potential in rural development in Tanzania.