Agriculture is the backbone of the Tanzania economy whereby the sector accounts for an average of 50% of GDP and constitute 50% of the export earnings. Manufactured goods contributes 11%, Minerals 19%, Petroleum products 2% and other exports 18%..
The livestock sub-sector in particular is an integral part of Tanzania's economy. According to 1994/95 Agriculture Census results, the sub sector contributes about 18% of the national GDP. The sub sector as a whole contributes about 30% to the agricultural GDP and provides food which is consumed in the form of meat, milk, mile products and eggs.
Tanzania's climatic growing conditions are favourable for the production of a wide range of fruits, vegetables and flowers. The most important fruits include pineapples, passion fruits, citrus fruits, mangoes, peaches, pears and bananas, while vegetables include tomatoes, spinach cabbages, and okra. Flowers include tropical and non-tropical varieties. The external market of fruits and vegetables presents good opportunities in the neighbouring countries, Middle East and Europe.
Oilseeds crops include both industrial (castor seeds) and edible oilseeds (sunflowers, groundnuts, sesame, copra, cottonseeds and soya beans).
Spices such as black, sweet and hot peppers, chillies, ginger, onions, coriander, garlic onions, hermeric, cinnamon, and vanilla are important crops for both the domestic and export markets. The cocoa beans crop is a good small scale foreign exchange earner and is also an important source of income to smallholder cocoa producers. Dates, kapok and oilpalm are also produced.
Major staples (maize, rice and wheat), drought resistant crops (sorghum, millet and cassava) and other substaples such as irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas and plantains are also produced.
Annual domestic consumption of sugar is estimated at about 300,000 tonnes (1996) and installed plant capacity is 230,000 tonnes p.a.. However, actual sugar production averages around 120,000 tonnes per annum.
Cashew,the third Tanzania's export crop, is mainly a smallholder crop and contributes 10% of the total value of Tanzania's foreign exchange earnings.
Coffee, the first Tanzania's export crop, is both a smallholder and plantation (estate) crop and contributes 17% of Tanzania's foreign exchange earnings.
Cotton, the second Tanzania export crop, is mainly a smallholder's crop and contributes 14% of country's foreign exchange earnings..
Palm is a smallholder crop and it is an important source of edible oil. Palm oil industry is generally underdeveloped with an average production of only 6,000 tons of palm oil per year.
Sisal is essentially an estate crop which contributes 1%of Tanzania's foreign exchange.
Tea is an estate crop. It contributes 6% of the Tanzania's traditional agricultural exports.
Tobacco is mainly a smallholder crop and contributes 2% of the Tanzania's export earnings