Tobacco farmers smell fortune

TOBACCO growers in Tanzania should have all reasons to smile as Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has pledged to purchase 30 million kilogrammes of the cash crop from farmers during the forthcoming farming season.

The pledge was made on Monday by President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of JTI, Mr Masamichi Terabatake, during a meeting with Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, who had visited the offices of the multinational company.

The meeting was also attended by JTI’s Board of Directors Chairman, Mr Mutsuo Iwai and General Manager of Tanzania Cigarette Company (TCC), Mr Takashi Araki.

Mr Majaliwa visited the company as a follow up of discussions held during the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) which was held in Tunisia, last month.

The Premier was optimistic that the decision by JTI to purchase additional tobacco will be of relief to Tanzanian farmers, who have been struggling to secure reliable markets for their produce.

“Today, the JTI board of directors has announced a decision to purchase 30 million kilogrammes from 14 million kilogrammes which were bought during the last harvest season. This is an inspiring opportunity for Tanzanian farmers,” Mr Majaliwa declared.

“In the past, companies engaged in the purchase of the cash crop had a tendency of dictating the quantity of tobacco that they intended to buy and this led to limited production of the crop. It is now up to farmers to increase production to meet the demand by JTI,” the PM added.

Meanwhile, Mr Majaliwa on Monday also met with the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Fumio Kishida, where he conveyed condolences from President Samia Suluhu Hassan on the death of former Prime Minister of that country, the late Shinzo Abe.

Mr Majaliwa is today expected to join other mourners at the burial of the fallen Japanese premier by paying last respects at Nippon Budokan arena.

Delivering the condolence message to Mr Kishida, the PM remarked; “Her Excellency President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania extends her heartfelt condolence to you, the family of the deceased and all people of Japan following the death of Abe.”

Apart from the condolence message, the two leaders discussed strengthening diplomatic relations between the two countries.

During their meeting, Mr Majaliwa also recapped issues they had discussed virtually with the Japanese Premier during the TICAD 8 in Tunisia.

The issues in questions include requests which had been fronted by Tanzania during TICAD 7 which include upgrading of Kigoma Port in Lake Tanganyika, water supply project in Zanzibar and construction of a road between Arusha and Holili in Kilimanjaro Region.

“I am glad that the Japanese PM has said they are also working on eight requests for projects which were presented by Tanzania during the TICAD 8 and discussions are underway,” he stated.

The projects in question include rehabilitation of Morogoro-Dodoma Highway, Lake Victoria basin irrigation scheme, Lugoda water supply project in Mufindi and capacity building for Dar es Salaam fish breeding research centre.

The list of projects to which Tanzania submitted requests for support from Japan during TICAD 8 are construction of a modern fishing port and upgrading of Wete fishing port in Zanzibar.

Other requests include establishment of a fishing quality control laboratory in addition to construction of a power transmission line between Somanga-Fungu-Mkuranga.

For his part, the Japanese PM said his country is committed to support African countries, including Tanzania, to become self-reliant in production of food.

Mr Kishida said his country will commit 300 US million dollars through the African Development Bank (AfDB) to enable African countries to produce adequate food to cushion themselves against shortage caused by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

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