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Floriculture and horticulture in Tanzania

In Tanzania the Women@Work Campaign is focusing on cut flowers, vegetables (green/French beans) and avocado production. There are around 30 farms in these chains which export their produce. Green beans are the single largest horticultural foreign exchange earner for Tanzania. Avocado production has increased, gradually taking the place of coffee production whose income is unstable. Avocado production, like green beans production, relies heavily on out-growers. The cut flower sector in Tanzania is established, with a stable production chain into Europe. The flower sector in Tanzania employs approximately 7,000 workers directly (working in the firms) and 36,000 indirectly[1] with approximate 75% women. Approximately 6,000 are members of Tanzania Plantation Agricultural Workers Union (TPAWU).

Despite women workers forming the majority of the workforce in the horticulture value chains, they are not equally represented in decision making positions. Women are preferred to men for employment in the cut flower, green beans and in avocado production because they occupy low positions, are mostly unskilled and casual workers. Lack of employment contracts are especially prevalent in farms without Global GAP and HACCP certification[2]. Engaging workers as casual laborers bars them from accessing key employment benefits, including maternity leave and access to trade unions. Workers in the horticultural sector are generally paid well below a living wage. The minimum wage in agriculture sector, including cut-flower is Tanzania shillings 100,000 (USD 45)[3] as set by the sectoral wage board. The low wages aggravate the workers and it is difficult to meet household costs for food, clothing, children’s’ education and healthcare for family members.

According to the 2016 Hivos Baseline Survey Report, the horticulture firms that grow green beans and avocados were found to have weak affirmative action and/or reproductive health policies such as sexual harassment protection policy, which limits access to reproductive health benefits, knowledge and services. This has resulted in mistrusting available family planning services - in terms of health and safety - hence the majority of workers continue relying on traditional unreliable methods. Furthermore, there is a lack of a critical mass of women workers required for the agitation and promotion of decent labor practices.

Laws, policies and government

Comparatively, Tanzania has a supportive policy and legal framework that promotes decent work for women: National Horticultural Development Strategy-NHDS; Tanzanian government commitment to attain Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 5 to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; the Labor Act No.11 of 2007; the Employment and Labor Relations Act, 2006 (ELRA); and the Employment; the Labor Relations (Code of Good Practice) Rules, 2007; Labor Institutions Act, 2004; the National Social Security Policy, 2003; the Sexual Offences Special Provisions (SOSPA) Act No.4 of 1998; the National Plan of Action to Combat Violence Against Women and Children(2001-2015); and, the National Agriculture Policy of 2013, among others. These separately provide for equal opportunity and treatment, equal remuneration for work of equal value, maternity and paternal leave, prevention and redress of all forms of violence against women.

The implementation of these laws and policies however has been limited for several reasons: the absence of or inadequacy of enforcement mechanisms by government; lack of or inadequate monitoring and evaluation systems and scant prioritization and resourcing for gender rights and labor protection. The lack of filtering down of these policies into horticultural firms impedes implementation at an institutional level. The political environment in Tanzania is steadily shrinking for advocacy work, as experienced by the work of labor unions, human rights organizations and the media.

The Women@Work campaign has established partnerships in Tanzania with two local organizations: Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA) and Tanzania Plantation Agricultural Workers Union (TPAWU) through which advocacy for better work conditions is sustained.


[1]Kirigia E, Betsema G, van Westen G, and Zoomers A. (LANDac /IDS, Utrecht University) (January 2016): Flowers for Food? Retrieved from

[2] 2016 Hivos Baseline Survey Report

[3] Retrieved from:

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