Rice growing on a smallholder farmers plot, just next to the pilot farm we are building
I have been looking for a project that can ferment micro economic activity at village level. This was meant to be a for profit project that would not leave me poorer, of course but would also improve the lives of the communities it is based in.
The business plan was drawn with the intention of implementing it in Zimbabwe where I was born. But the politics did not make economic sense. The idea was to start a piggery. This would also entail producing the feed, the breeding and farming of pigs for meat and other value added products. The produce would be processed in an abattoir built by us and sold in retail outlets run by us. We would need involve the community by creating a ready market for the sale of their produce, initially to ourselves to produce feed and offer other items in our retail outlets. We would also eventually enable others in the community replicate our operations.
Thus creating an A to Z type of operation.
We then had a meeting Munya and I, on the way forward because time was passing by at ever faster rate. Keeping in mind this project had been sitting in the drawers for the last 7 years at least. The issue that came up (Munya) was that there was a potential market in China and it needed to be exploited. We had to look for an African country with great potential for China exports. Zambia and Tanzania came up. Tanzania came tops because of its close relationship with China and the port facilities at Dar es Salaam.
Cooperative feed mill in Vic just outside Barcelona
To beef up our confidence, a trip was organised for Spain to see how a village was dependent on pork production both for local and export. We visited Vic,
what an eye opener.
All we have been dreaming of was actually realised here. It also came out in the hospitality of the dear friends who hosted us. We wish to extend the same hospitality once settled.
A spot to think in the gothic part of Barcelona
Our next trip was to Tanzania to see if it was feasible to carry out the project. We had to organise contacts that would help us with land. We knew there was an anti corruption drive by the new President Magufuli. We took this as an advantage, so on first contact our policy was first to spell out that no money was going to be exchanged. This proved to be a good strategy because you ended up with good business minded partners.
Before I go ahead of myself, I have to explain this, the Tanzanian law does not allow a foreigner to own land. All land is under the custodian of the President. He has a final say on all maters on land. You can still lease or go into partnership with locals. If you manage to buy land the TIC (investment centre) will be custodian, that is they will hold the lease papers for the period of company operations. The TIC also necessitates your immigration papers.
We had four different teams that were willing to go along with us. The process of identifying partners is not easy, neither is that of identifying the land. We were lucky enough to find a local business man, Edmund, who had a passion for farming. He new the local and village politics. Some land has multiple ownership and this can cause problems. Coming from outside, this is not obviously apparent.
Tread carefully and exercise patience.
All the 3 pieces of land we viewed proved not ideal or there were disputes. Some was very attractive, one had over 10 000 hectares, beat that.
We now became a team of three, with Edmund joining us. We had already incorporated a U.K. Company which is the investment vehicle. We registered a Tanzania company, KUISHI na KUISHI. Edmund identified a farm in Kibaha, which is a modest 105 acres. We were excited and I boarded the first plane to Dar es Salaam . Munya had to stay behind to sort out all financial and equipment issues. I rushed in to do the planning and inspection of land layout.
And this is where we are.
We will go on this fabulous journey together. The opportunities we see around us is mind boggling. Tanzania is an interesting place right now.
Written by Constantine Mutikani