Monday, September 16, 2013

Nagu directs district officials to defend land ownerships for pastoralists

THE Minister of State in Prime Minister’s office responsible for Investment and Privatization Dr. Mary Nagu has directed the Bagamoyo district council officials to recognize land areas set apart for livestock keepers and farmers in the district. Dr. Nagu issued a directive on Wednesday last week at Makurunge village in Bagamoyo district, Coast region when she met leaders of the Barbaig pastoral community members during her tour of the village aimed at inspecting large scale sugar cane investment development project owned by Ago Eco-Energy Tanzania. The company which has acquired 11,000 hectares of land for investment on sugar cane production in Bagamoyo district since 2006 is yet to start its operation owing to some reasons including the research activities the firm is still undergoing on sugar cane production. Before inspecting the project, Minister Nagu took time to exchange some ideas with some leaders of Barbaig pastoral community in the district about the importance of land ownership and efforts being undertaken by the government in order to help pastoral community members in the country. While addressing them, Dr. Nagu directed Bagamoyo District Administrative Secretary John Makale with whom she had accompanied in the tour to ensure that, the district recognizes their land ownership. The Minister’s call came amid complaint raised by one of the leaders, Iddi Kessy Gidashi who told Dr. Nagu that, some district officials have been harassing them now and then threatening them to vacate the area which they claim has been set apart for investment. In response, Dr. Nagu who was speaking through an interpreter urged them to make more efforts into getting their right of land ownership from the district authorities in order to avoid any possible skirmishes. Either Dr. Nagu thanked leaders of the Barbaig pastoral community for having cooperated with the investors in the district when contacted before and agreed to submit their own land for investment in a peaceful manner. She also told them of various strategies the government is currently undertaking in order to defend rights of land ownership to pastoralists who in some other parts of the country have entered into serious confrontations with farmers and investors. Meanwhile an overlook of the matter was cornered mid this week when former President Benjamin William Mkapa said that, Tanzania ought to introduce title deeds for its small scale farmers and villagers if it is keen on addressing the alarming conflicts related to land use. 

Livestock keepers in Tanzania faces shortage of land for pasturing their livestock

Mkapa was presenting a paper in Dar es Salaam last week during the opening of a three-day national conference on ‘Land justice for sustainable peace’. His presentation outlined nine core recommendations necessary to the promotion of sustainable land development. On top of the list was a call for title deeds. “Lack of records is an impediment…land without a title deed is in itself a source of dispute and conflict” he stressed. The Bagamoyo based Ago Eco-Energy Project comprises a total of approximately 11,000 ha of sugar cane plantations, where 7,800ha are on the site of the project and approximately 3,000 ha of out grower land for which the government owns 25 percent stake and the investor remains with 75 percent. Outlining reasons for delays on the project to Dr. Nagu, the Vice-Chairman of the investing firm, Jonathan Nkambala noted that, his company is still doing a research work to look for suitable seedlings which have been planted for testing on 500 hectare of land. He also noted that, another thing is the civil case which some residents had filled in court demanding for right of payments as compensation of their land taken by the investor which the minister clarified that, the issue was being solved between the Bagamoyo district council and the residents who had their land dispossessed in order to pave the way for such a large scale investment. However, Nkambala further said that, at the moment, the investors have so far spent about $ 50 million and once the project is complete by 2016, it shall have spent a huge sum of approximately $ 500 million to allow its full operation. On sugar production schedules, the project will start producing 40,000 tones of sugar per year and after three years’ time will increase to 250,000 tones. The land for the project has been granted with water rights by the Wami/Ruvu River Basin Authority and a local demonstration farm of 500 ha with drip irrigation has been operational since 2007 with excellent yields. A Communication and consulting officer with the International Development Consultants Ltd, (IDC) a consulting firm Ibrahim Bakari, said that, the project is also designed and prepared for a flexible production of ethanol/sugar plus cogeneration of electric power. The project developer Agro Eco-Energy Tanzania Ltd is in partnership with the Government of Tanzania which is providing the land, the legal and the moral framework for the project.

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