State tells off Kilombero plantation lobbyists

THE government has taken a stance over the nationalised Kilombero Plantation Limited (KPL), telling off lobbyists that the largest farm now under the National Service (JKT) will never be granted to a private investor.

In 2021, the government confiscated farms formerly owned by a foreign investor—KPL after it failed to develop it and process two main products from the farms (maize and rice) only to  remain dormant for a long time.

Therefore, the government decided to hand over the project to JKT following the investor’s failure to run the projects.

On Wednesday, the Minister for Defence and National Service, Innocent Bashungwa issued a stance when he made a marathon working tour of the farms and the factory at Mngeta and a robust irrigation project for rice and aquaculture at JKT’s 837 Chita Camp located in a similar district.

Regarding the Mngeta projects, Mr Bashungwa lauded JKT for developing the farms and the plant, which are currently being run by the National Service’s economic wing, Suma-JKT.

He said that lobbyists had no chance at the project, insisting that it would remain with the army adding that the government would continue pumping in funds to facilitate the JKT projects.

In a rare twist, the treasury decided to buy back the Mngeta Farms in Morogoro Region, which were initially owned by the defunct KPL, after it had defaulted on a loan provided by NMB Bank PLC.

In 2021, the then Treasury Registrar, Mgoya Benedict said after signing the sale agreement with liquidator of the farm, Silvanus Mlola that the government decided to buy back the failed farm because it is strategically important for food production.

The KPL, a subsidiary of Agrica Limited, a British company registered in the tax haven of Guernsey was put on sale in 2019 after defaulting NMB’s 5.6 million US dollars (over 13bn/-) loan after a failed business model, which was earlier touted as the best large scale commercial farming partnership with smallholder farmers.

Apart from the NMB loan, KPL also got a 20 million US dollars loan from the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Showcased as a success for G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, KPL’s failures started in 2018.

During his tour of the project, Mr Bashungwa said the JKT project had made a lot of success in the country’s food security, insisting that it was pegged to the National Service’s plans to ensure that the army feeds itself and feed the country with an excess being sold outside the country.

At the Chita Camp, the minister was excited with the grand irrigation project being undertaken by JKT, which covers 12,000 hectares of land.

According to the Chief of National Service (CNS), the project at Chita was seeking to ensure that the army feeds itself, insisting that JKT was implementing it’s strategic projects at its different camps, expressing optimism that the projects would help the army to intensify food security in the country.

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