Commercial farming to boost food security in Tanzania

By Shout-Africa Correspondent, Dar es Salaam – As Tanzania currently imports about 40 percent of its sugar and population statistics projecting increased local and regional demand, the government is fast-tracking 25 commercial farms for paddy and sugarcane to address food security and position the country as regional exporter.

Tanzania Commercial agricultureThe first site ready to take off is a $500 million USD equity for investment sugarcane farm to be operated by a Swedish Agro EcoEnergy. The project will involve 7,800 ha of the main farm and about 3,000-3,500ha managed by 2,000 outgrowers.

Speaking at the project site in Bagamoyo District, about 70 kilometres North of the Commercial City of Dar es Salaam, EcoEnergy’s Executive Chairman, Per Carstedt, said under land for equity arrangement, the project will contribute to the country’s efforts to ensure self-sufficiency in sugar through co-existence of the investor and small holder farmers.

“The surrounding communities will also be empowered to set up, own farms and operate independent commercial out-grower companies, together these communities will produce 300,000-400,000 tons of sugarcane annually.

Within three years of operations apart from the out growers, the main site is scheduled to provide the domestic market with a further 150,000 tons of sugar annually, 100,000 MWh of power to the national grid (enough for 100,000 rural households consuming 1000KWh/year) and 12 million litres of ethanol from the main farm.

The Bagamoyo project is one of the 25 commercial farms earmarked for sugarcane and paddy to be implemented under the government’s fast tracked Big Results Now (BRN) initiative. Sugar sites are targeted to end the current sugar deficit of about 200,000 tons.

Speaking about the project, the Bagamoyo District Council Chairman, Mr. Shukuru Mbatto said his office supports the project which will also boost the economy of most of currently poor Bagamoyo farmers and pastoral communities.

“The project was allocated a former Government owned land at Razaba farm. Despite invading the area, for humanitarian reasons, the inhabitants of the farm by a cut-off date of 2007 will be fairly reimbursed and resettled,” he added.

Speaking at the farm site, some farmers who have already been trained and attended study tours to learn from other out-growers, praised the project adding that it will transform them into modern farmers.

“We have received initial training, visited other successful farmers in Tanzania and we have started our own project preparations. We have not been grabbed of our land, we are part of the project and we feel happy,” said Fatma Sadick a small holder farmer at Kiwangwa village, Bagamoyo.

The project funding arrangement include a contribution from the government of Tanzania in terms of infrastructure development and packages from the African Development Bank (AfDB), Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) who will focus more on the small holders.

“The project has the potential to bring significant development for Tanzania and to be a catalyst for modernization and growth of the agribusiness sector. The project has other socioeconomic benefits in the way of generating direct dividends, tax revenues to government and all the indirect effects from 11,000- 15,000 new jobs,” concludes an AfDB assessment report on the Bagamoyo site.