Tanzanian Food Producers, Vendors and Traders Need Direct Relief Measures in the Face of the COVID-19

The study sought to explore the impact on food traders’ business enterprises during the pandemic and the strategies they employed to cope. Tanzania’s responses to Covid-19 pandemic have shifted over time. An initial ambiguous position refrained from imposing hard lockdown restrictions measures and focused on local remedies. In the second year of the pandemic, and under new political leadership, this has given way to the promotion of a national vaccination programme. Despite the absence of any significant hard lockdown measures in the country, Tanzania’s food producers, vendors and traders faced disrupted domestic food markets and were locked out of the regional market. As a result, these food-system actors incurred significant business losses during the two first waves of the pandemic. Although food producers, vendors and traders play a central role in sustaining national food security their interests have not been properly considered in the development and implementation of official Covid-19 relief measures. Women and youth constitute the majority of food system actors, including in the production and trade of food, and were thus disproportionately harmed by the disruption of the system. The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of regional and international trade frameworks and the critical need for top-level diplomatic and political solutions to strengthen national and African food systems and the livelihoods of food system actors in Tanzania and the continent more broadly.