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September 12, 2011

Tanzanian prime minister defends farming investor

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda has came out in support of the investor who has acquired 300,000 acres of land in Tanzania's Mpanda District for agricultural development.

Speaking for the first time following reports critical of the investor, the Premier said the deal would benefit the local economy and has the potential to uplift peasants in the area from the vicious cycle of poverty. He said the investor through Agrisol Energy Tanzania Limited, had acquired the land in question after open, long negotiations with regional and district leaders.

“The land was previously a forest reserve and no one has been evicted to pave the way for the project,” explained Pinda. He said it was wrong to oppose the project for the sake of it. He said the land was formerly occupied by Burundi refugees for many years and who have since left for their country after peace was restored there.

“As leaders we were confronted with the challenge of how to put the vast area to productive use. We were to either reclaim it by planting trees or allocate it for other development plans like construction of schools, health centres and others,” he said. “I become more excited when the objective is for agricultural production.”

According to him, there was a ray of planned activities ranging from food crops to ethanol production, livestock keeping, to establishment of a processing factory which I found appealing as they held both the interest of the investor and the local peasants living in 12 villages around it.

“The villagers interest they have been taken into consideration and will benefit from technology transfer besides having a ready market for their improved production,” explained Mr Pinda, who is also the MP for Katavi in Mpanda District.

The Citizen

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