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Bates College

Publication Date

Fall 2022

Program Name

Tanzania-Zanzibar: Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management


This is the story of fruit on Unguja Island. It illuminates the livelihoods of farmers, intermediaries, and sellers and each of their roles in the island’s fruit commodity chain. Linkages between these actors are known to play increasingly important roles in agricultural economies across the world due to their ability to create “multiplier effects” through networks of non-farm income opportunities (Wineman, 2020). Through interviews with 19 Zanzibaris who work in this trade network, I learned about the intricacies of these networks. My data revealed that the fruit flow chain on Unguja creates a network of extensive backward and forward economic linkages, which start with smallholder farmers. This commodity chain is an informal system which relies upon formal systems in its operation. And finally, that the fruit commodity chain is built upon personal relationships between actors who have mutual trust. The fruit trade on Unguja does not adhere to any singular system of regulation or governance; it weaves itself into the cracks of the unspoken routines of everyday life in Zanzibar.


African Studies | Agricultural and Resource Economics | Agricultural Economics | Civic and Community Engagement | Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations | Food Studies | Human Ecology | Place and Environment

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