Sunday, 13 May 2012

Tanzania: Kikwete Welcomes Foreign Agricultural Investors

BY ABDUEL ELINAZA
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — TANZANIA has welcomed agro-business investors from around the world describing the move as beneficial to small-scale farmers.
President Jakaya Kikwete made the appeal at the 22nd World Economic Forum, Grow Africa Forum: adding that: "We in Tanzania are ready to do business. That is why we attended this meeting."
President Kikwete said that the national agriculture investment strategy prioritizes groups that can benefit from new market opportunities and modernize the sector in order to make farming more attractive to the youth in the country.
"When we bring in the private sector the initiative is tailored to benefit the small-scale farmers. We need to modernize agriculture and make it more attractive to the youth," he said.
The president's sentiment follows the fact that about 50 per cent of the nation's population comprises young people aged below 30 years. It is most of these young people who feel that farming is a back-breaking occupation.
He said governments have an important role to play in providing support in areas of irrigation, inputs and building commodity markets. However, private sector investment is also essential to avoid over-dependence on subsidies.
The president is expected to deliver a speech at the G8 summit at Camp David in the US next week about the country's ambition to implement plans contained in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) project, following an invitation from President Barrack Obama of US. The US pledged to support the project.
The Grow Africa Investment Forum, convened jointly by the African Union, New Economic Partnership for African Development and the World Economic Forum, engaged over 270 leaders including heads of state and governments from Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania, as well as leaders of African and global business, international and donor agencies and farmers' organizations.
Participants noted that African agriculture offers tremendous growth potential to investors which can strengthen food security and economic opportunity on the continent."Greater private-sector investment and improvements to the business enabling environment are needed to capture that potential," a WEF press release stated.
Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, said, "We have scratched the surface, but we haven't yet broken the mould. When we do that you will see the explosion of development in Africa."
Rwandese President Paul Kagame said: "We can mobilize farmers into an entrepreneurial mindset and create new opportunities for women, youths and rural entrepreneurs." The Grow Africa partnership has developed significant momentum since it was catalyzed by African and global leaders at the 2011 World Economic Forum on Africa.
The potential seen in African agriculture presents a transformational opportunity, according to Josette Sheeran, the Vice-Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
"We're at a tipping point," she said. "Working together, we can ensure that when we meet in 10 years, it will be in an Africa that is not only feeding itself, but helping to feed the world." The Grow Africa partnership is coordinated by the African Union, NEPAD and the World Economic Forum with a goal of galvanizing sustainable investment into African agriculture, based on country-led priorities.
Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia are the first countries to engage with Grow Africa, geared to meet world food demand and security. The way to realize this is through a transformation of small-scale farming on the continent by increasing the productivity of small farmers and having them well organized and collaborative, to take advantage of supply chains and investments.
Meanwhile, President Kikwete has directed the management of the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) to act promptly and open doors for more members to join and benefit from the stock exchange. The DSE which was established by the government and incorporated in September 1996 started trading in April 1998. Currently there are 37 shareholders.
According to a statement issued by the Presidential Communication Office in Dar es Salaam yesterday, President Kikwete underlined the need for expedited formation of capital market and commodities to protect farmers from traders who collude to dictate farm products market prices. They give minimal prices.
President Kikwete issued the directives on Thursday at the end of a guided tour of Ethiopian Commodities Exchange (ECX) where he was briefed on its operations. He was in Ethiopia to attend the World Economic Forum summit, African Zone that ended on Friday.
The Chief Executive Officer, CEO of ECX, Dr Eleni Gabre-Madhin, informed President Kikwete that the Ethiopia Commodities Exchange was established four years ago and has registered 450 shareholders. Dr Gabre-Madhin informed President Kikwete that at least four crops were traded at the stock exchange and prices are uniform all over the country. These are coffee, sim sim, maize and peas.
"Mr President, you know that the biggest lender in Africa is not the World Bank or IMF but small scale farmers who sell their crops on credit. The new arrangement has eradicated exploitation by traders. Usually a few hours after selling crops, money is deposited in the farmers' bank accounts for their convenience," Dr Gabre-Madhin explained.
Responding to the remarks, President Kikwete said the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange should extend the horizon to allow more members especially farmers to join and benefit from the stock exchange.
"The administration must learn from Ethiopia where ordinary farmers are no longer cheated by middlemen. This (enrolment of more shareholders) must be accomplished soonest," President Kikwete emphasized.
He added, "There is no doubt the inclusive stock exchange will speed up the agricultural development process for the benefit of the people. We need a stable and undisturbed market where farmers receive suitable payments away from oppressive traders," he observed.
The activities of the DSE are monitored and supervised by the Capital Markets and Securities Authority (CMSA). The DSE operates in close association with the Nairobi Stock Exchange in Kenya and the Uganda Securities Exchange in Uganda. Plans are underway to integrate the three to form a single East African bourse.
Original Article Here

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