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Chinese firm invests US$1bn in Tanzanian cassava

Tanzania has signed a US$1bn partnership agreement with a Chinese firm to commercialise cassava farming and processing

The move is expected to help growers who have been struggling with the challenge of accessing reliable markets. Tanzania Agricultural Export Processing Zone Limited and Epoch Agriculture (TAEPZ) from China said they created an out-grower scheme that will ensure sufficient production of cassava for processing.

According to the agreement, the firm will also establish an industrial park comprising of factories to produce cassava flour, cassava starch, animal feeds, organic fertilizer and paper pulp, starting with three regions of Mtwara, Lindi and Coast, according to the firm’s chairperson Dior Feng. “The next phase will include production of industrial sugar and ethanol,” she said.

Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) executive director Godfrey Simbeye said that Tanzania has a lot of untapped opportunities and the private sector was ready to fully exploit them.

“We have to intervene in the project for the purpose of ensuring that it is fast-tracked and given its potential in spurring inclusive economic growth. We facilitated the assessment whereby our country can conform to Chinese standards,” he said.

According to him, the current statistics indicate that Tanzania produces 5.5mn tonnes of cassava every year, while TAEPZ will consume 2.5mn tonnes of dry cassava every year.

“TAEPZ, the locally registered company has shown interest to invest in cassava production and export (Lindi Industrial Park and Production Farms). The company has secured a market of two million metric tonnes of dry cassava chips per annum with increase of five per cent for subsequent year,” Simbeye stressed.

The Tanzanian government has described the partnership agreement as a big boost towards industrialisation. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr Adelhelm Meru said once the agreement fully implemented will transform living standards of farmers yet completing the government's commitment of making Tanzania an industrialised country.