Good Food for Cities

Good Food for the city of Arusha

July 14, 2023

In the northeast of Tanzania, the growing city of Arusha is located. With its expecting 2 million people in the future, the city faces sustainability and public health challenges. Along with the city’s council, Rikolto works towards good food for the city of Arusha.

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10,000 farmers & 20,000 consumers

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From 2018 until 2021

The challenges

Although the World Food Programme reports that Tanzania is food secure at the national level, Arusha City still faces challenges in the future. Rapid urbanisation due to migration and expansion will increase the city's population from 416,000 to 2 million by 2050. Another future challenge will be high water stress due to the expansion of commercial water demand. The Arusha catchment is part of the Pangani Water Basin, which has renewable water resources of 1,200m3 per capita, which is below the global benchmark for water stressed areas (1700m3). Yields are likely to be reduced and crop choices altered as a result of climate change. The market is also influenced by regional political dynamics. For example, rapid and unexpected regulatory changes often expose farmers to market shocks. There is often a lack of machinery, irrigation, adequate seeds, fertilisers or pesticides, and the use of crop protection products is excessive, with serious implications for food safety.

We want to make sure that all food produced around Arusha, especially vegetables and fruits, is safe. The municipality also looks at developing a Food Policy for Arusha together with a wide range of partners.

Shukuru Tweve

Project coordinator for Food Smart Cities, Rikolto in Tanzania

The Strategies

  1. Conduct an analysis of food safety risks (chemical, biological, physical) throughout the vegetable chain to identify the hotspots for action
  2. Develop a risk-based communication strategy towards consumers to increase their awareness on food safety issues
  3. Make recommendation of a protocol for the government on how to handle the food safety of fresh fruit and vegetables
  4. Develop a national food safety standard tested in Arusha to guarantee the production of safe vegetables and fruits
  5. Implement the KIOSK model: food stalls in local markets will sell safe vegetables that comply with the food safety national standards and will serve as an information hub on food safety in order to raise consumers' awareness. Moreover, training on food safety will be given to food vendors.
  6. Advice on local regulations and policies on food safety
  7. Jointly develop programme to address hotspots and divide roles for the implementation of the programme
  8. Build an inspirational and scaling up model for the entire country

A systemic perspective

Rikolto endorses CIAT’s definition of sustainable food system:

Sustainable food systems are those food systems that aim at achieving food and nutrition security and healthy diets while limiting negative environmental impacts and improving socio-economic welfare. Sustainable food systems are therefore protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as human well-being and social equity. As such they provide culturally acceptable, economically fair, affordable, nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy foods in a way that balances agro-ecosystem integrity and social welfare.

The several actors involved in the Arusha Food Safety Initiative are looking to all the aspects of the food system:

  • Production: we contribute to a change in farmers’ behaviour towards safe production by implementing sustainable agriculture practices
  • Consumption: we are working on access, affordability and acceptability both at individual and institutional level by using health as an entry point to change consumption behaviours.
  • Infrastructure and markets: we set up the KIOSKs selling outlets in traditional local markets to provide safe vegetables
  • Enabling environment: we work on developing national food safety standards, extension services and local regulations
  • Research and technology: evidence-based action, trust-building (lab-testing)
  • Socio-economics: fair prices and we create incentives
  • Socio-cultural norms: we work on raising awareness around the food safety issue and on increasing the acceptability of safe vegetables
  • Climate change: we support renewable-powered drip irrigation to increase the availability of safe veggies

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Milestones in improving Arusha's food system


  • We have been working on circular economy in Arusha by commercializing organic food waste collection, ensuring clean markets that contribute towards food safety as well as creating jobs for youth. Further, together with Mesula, a youth-led business that trains farmers on safe food production and sells their produce in Arusha City, an e-commerce platform was developed that provides a shorter food distribution chain and ensures traceability.
  • The Participatory Food Safety System (PFSS) working group has been working on the initial design of the participatory system that provides a cheap and trustworthy alternative to official certification. It will be piloted in 2022 with a focus on the fruits and vegetable sector in Arusha’s Kilombero and Tengeru markets and working with MUVIKIHO farmers (farmer organisation nearby Arusha City).
  • The Generation Food project's final incubation phase came to an end in 2021. During the incubation, 21 youth-led businesses were coached and mentored. Additionally, 15 youth were capacitated with knowledge on policy, advocacy and communication skills. These youth participated at the national food system summit where they advocated for a better business environment that enables youth to engage in food systems.


  • We transformed the Arusha Food Safety Initiative into the Arusha Sustainable Food Systems Platform (ASPF) because it now gathers interest from various stakeholders to work on broader issues other than food safety only. This platform is made up of actors in the food system, such as public institutions or governments, research and academia, private sector actors, civil society organisations and NGOs. The platform facilitates multi-stakeholder dialogues that address food system change within Arusha. It consists of a steering committee that offers an advisory role to six working groups, which are: Safe production, food safety standards and regulations, consumer sensitization, participatory food safety system (PFSS/PGS), youth in agriculture, and finally city planning and logistics.
  • We worked with platforms members to set up interactive radio campaigns on healthy, sustainable, and nutritious diets to create more awareness about the consumption of these foods. Further, we also engaged TAHA to improve food safety standards of fresh fruits and vegetables at the retail level, especially in the markets, through the adoption of a Kiosk-model. In Arusha, three food stalls were improved and transformed into kiosks.
  • Through the Generation Food project that aims to encourage and support youth to be in the driving seat of sustainable food systems, youth have been trained on business management skills, value chain specific skills through a hackathon (180 youth participated) and a bootcamp (70 youth). These youth have developed sustainable businesses that offer solutions to the pressing food systems challenges in Arusha such as developing eco-friendly packaging of products and eco-friendly food delivery through 100% electric motorbikes.


  • In 2019, we conducted baseline studies on 3 key elements of Arusha’s food system: the local economy, food safety and access to food.
  • Several Kiosk food stalls have been installed in traditional local markets: in the Kiosks consumers are informed about the importance of safe food and they are offered fruit and vegetables from farmers who adhere to the local GAP standard, and farmers get higher and fair price for their products.
  • MUVIKIHO, an umbrella of agricultural organisations is developing, supported by Rikolto, an inclusive business model for safe vegetables. Moreover, several training courses have been organised where farmers learn how to produce better and safer food. We support farmers in implementing** good and climate-smart agricultural practices** and quality management systems.
  • Together with the Tanzania Bureau of Standards, Solidaridad, Rikolto and local partners put together a local Code of Good Agricultural Practice.


  • In 2018, Rikolto co-initiated the creation of the Arusha Food Safety Committee, a multi-stakeholder platform dedicated to ensuring access to safe food for all Arushans. Food Safety Steering Committee providing feedback and piloting.


  • Rikolto Tanzania currently works with over 10,000 farmers to support inclusive business development and improvements in food production and trading that address key issues identified by the Arusha Food Smart City initiative, such as environmental management and food safety risks.
  • We expect to reach 20,000 consumers through the expansion of this initiative once additional funds are secured.
  • In 2018, Muvikiho members produced 60,000 tons of vegetables for domestic consumption and exported 2,000 tons to Europe.


What will we eat tomorrow?

Food smart cities leading the transition to sustainable food

Between March and August 2019, three journalists from the magazine Eos Tracé visited partner cities of Rikolto's Food Smart Cities programme. During these visits, they interviewed more than 130 people and discovered initiatives that make safer, healthier and sustainable food more accessible to citizens. This book tells their stories from 9 cities in Vietnam, Belgium, Tanzania, Indonesia, Ecuador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Read more

Who do we work with?

Arusha City Council
Agri Pro Focus
Arumeru District Council


Kain Mvanda

Good Food for Cities Director in East Africa & Tanzania Country Representative

Stories from the ground

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