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Africa: Country Clinches Multi-Million Dollar Agriculture Deal

         Date: 2012-05-23

           Tag: Africa, Africa agriculture

Summary: President Jakaya Kikwete, who attended a G8 special session on Africa at Camp David near here on Saturday, said in an interview yesterday that the US made the largest single pledge of 315 million do…

Agriculture is the major occupation in Africa and the new push spearheaded by the US is aimed at marshalling resources from the private sector to augment government efforts to modernize farming and raise yield per hectare.

The eight most industrialized countries have pledged 897 million US dollars support to Tanzania under the new alliance to bolster agriculture and food security in Africa announced by President Barack Obama here last Friday.

President Jakaya Kikwete, who attended a G8 special session on Africa at Camp David near here on Saturday, said in an interview yesterday that the US made the largest single pledge of 315 million dollars.

Other pledges have been made by Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the European Union. In his announcement, President Obama said 45 African and transnational private companies had committed three billion dollars for various agricultural projects in the continent.

Tanzanian projects to benefit from the funding are those under the Agriculture Sector Development Programme as well as the southern corridor scheme.

Private investment is encouraged in food crop farming and the supply of fertilizers, pesticides and high yielding seeds as well as agro-processing to add value to farm produce. President Kikwete explained that the G8 support would initially benefit Tanzania, Ethiopia and Ghana, which have been praised for having precise and comprehensive plans for agricultural development.

"They have decided to start with three countries and expand gradually," he explained. The new initiative has been launched amid fiscal instability and austerity in Europe, but the US president said Africa must continue to get attention.

The Camp David summit also reviewed commitments by the G8 countries in Italy three years ago to provide 20 billion US dollars for agricultural development in Africa and other developing countries, some of which have not been met. Tanzania is yet to receive 30 million dollars from the commitment.

Meanwhile, President Kikwete said his government had started consultations with the US government agency for strategic development support to renew Tanzania's Millennium Challenge Account.

"We have given the signal and they have expressed willingness to listen," he said. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) provided 698 million US dollars under the first phase to finance Tunduma-Sumbawanga, Namtumbo Mbeya, Tanga-Horohoro and Pemba roads.

It also covered rural electrification schemes in six regions and Zanzibar and improvement of water supply in Dar es Salaam and Morogoro. The second phase is also expected to focus on roads and power supply.

In the wide ranging interview, Mr Kikwete explained that foreign investors in agriculture were allocated land earmarked by regional authorities through the Tanzania Investment Centre, rejecting allegations that they were grabbing land from peasant farmers.

"The private large farmers are coming to support smallholders, not to replace them," he explained, adding that established projects were providing extension services and market for small farmers around them.

Some foreign media had published unspecified claims that large scale farmers have grabbed millions of hectares of farmland from Tanzanian farmers.


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