Tanzania is rich in natural resources, including abundant agricultural land, forests, water, and minerals. Seventy-five percent of the population is rural, and agriculture employs nearly 80 percent of the Tanzanian workforce.
But the agricultural sector has lagged behind the country’s overall economic growth in recent years. Growth requires not only improved seeds, fertilizers, and irrigation for smallholder farmers, but also secure land rights.
The Tanzanian government has undertaken major reforms of land governance, both after the country gained independence in 1961, and more recently. In 1961, the government put in place "African Socialism," which included the forced movement of people into villages (ujamaa) and the collective cultivation of the land. Despite some gains, such as in education and social services, Tanzania remained one of the world’s poorest countries. By the 1990s, it was clear that the country needed a new approach to land governance.