THE Chinese government recognizes and specifies Tanzania as its largest partner in direct trading and direct investment of US $ 5.7 billion.
Chinese Deputy Ambassador to Tanzania, Gou Haodong, said recently during the 68th anniversary of the National Day of the People’s Republic of China that the investment are in the sectors of production, infrastructure and agriculture.
In agriculture, one of the investors is the China State Farms (CSF) which undertakes sisal cultivation in Rudewa, Kilosa District, in Morogoro Region. The sisal farm is reported to have contributed to improved development and changed the lives of local residents, particularly in Peapea village.
Established in 2000 , the sisal farm, apart from facilitating seasonal and permanent employment for more than 700 Tanzanians, particularly the local area villagers, it facilitated the start up of water project and health center.
The company also supports school facilities as part of its corporate social responsibility to assist in education, health and agriculture development in Peapea and Kisangata village as well as other neighboring villages surrounding the farm.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the ‘Daily News’ in Kilosa District recently, CSF Deputy Managing Director, Hu Jing, says the farm area occupies approximately 6,000 hectares, but most of it is steep and muddy valleys so is not fit for agriculture.
Mr Hu says currently, the company has 800 hectares in Kisangata area acquired in 2010 and are now ready for planting. In Peapea village, 1,200 to 1,500 hectares are also ready for sisal cultivation.
He says CSF is facing a problem involving labourers, because in the fields, only few people are willing to do farm work.
According to Mr Hu, the company cultivated 2,000 tonnes per year but produced only 200 tonnes worth USD 3 million. He says the market demand is low and operations of the company depends on the market.
“We are thankful though, our stay here helps also Tanzania to get foreign currency. China State Farms pays more than 10m/- to the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) every month,” says Mr Hu.
The company’s Chief Engineer, Mr Wang Lusheng, says more than 500 workers have been employed on the farm and all are enrolled with the NSSF. The company always participates in various social development activities in the community, he says.
Mr Wang says, for example, in 2011 with the support of their company, the International Center for Poverty Reduction China (IPRCC) has built a project in Peapea village purposely to train people in the village on how to reduce poverty.
According to Mr Wang, IPRCC collaborated with the China Agricultural University through the Research & Learning Center for African Development to launch the project and built well for water project in Peapea village.
The project has facilitated access to reliable, safe and clean water in the village by creating a 10,000 liters capacity facility thus reducing water problem in the village.
Mr Juma Mohamed, a Peapea resident says before the establishment of the project in the villages local residents were using salty water drawn from local wells “and sometimes this has caused health problems particularly to children.
But the development of the new project has removed all the problems. We are thankful to the coming of these Chinese to our village.” Ms Paulina Tadibwa is another resident in Peapea village.
She says that the new wells project provides fresh water and has been a great relief to women in the village. The villagers are contributing 500/= a month for a singleparent but a family (father, mother and children) is contributing up to 1,000/= monthly for maintenance of the well.
She says despite the vivid achievements in the village, some people are destroying the water infrastructure in or der to get water for feeding their livestock illegally. The China State Farms company has built a health facility in Peapea village and is accessible to all.
Doctor-in-charge of the health center, Boniface Kalatunga, says the facility offers services to all citizens and to the company staff all of whom have been enrolled with the NSSF health insurance.
The facility has one doctor, three nurses and five assistant nurses. Dr Kalatunga says most of the company’s employees are treated in the health center when in case they get accident, saying the center provides services to between 15 and 30 patients (OPD) in a day.
He says they have asked for the National Insurance Fund (NHIF) and they are waiting for a response. “With the NHIF partnership, many people will come here for the services because the drugs/medicines are available and the service is good,” says Dr Kalatunga.
In future, according to Dr Kalatunga the health facility expects to provide mother and baby care services, HIV testing and HIV drugs (ARVs) for people living with AIDS. One of the beneficiaries of the China State Farms company is a resident of Batini village, Festo Exavery, who is living with disability.
Exavery, father of sixmonth-old baby boy, Patric, and a husband to Ms Mwanjaa Shomari, says before he was employed in the company he was a pineapple vendor.
“Life is now better, I am very thankful to this company for giving me a job, I can now manage my life better,” says Exavery, pleading with the company to help him with a new bike.
Apart from them, Mr Zawadi Nasibu a driver and Maneno Joseph specializes in gardens, are the company’s employees who do not hesitate to express their happiness for the benefits they have been receiving from the company’s investment.
“I started work here in 2008 as a carpenter, but now I am a driver. Life is good and because of the company I do cultivation and I get food as well as extra income,” says Nasibu.
Mr Wang says the company also has its customs. One is to give gifts to workers who work for 22 days without emergency and effectively. They give them 25 kilograms of flour, sugar and 10,000/= as bonus.
He says this makes the company to buy 200 to 300 bags of flour every month. Agricultural Expert of the company, Mr Yang Tongyuan say Tanzania is a good symbol of a sisal investments in Africa and China State Farms will continue to cooperate with the Tanzanian Government in that area.
“Tanzania has great experience with the history of sisal farming. We get great experiences here in Tanzania and this will cement our economic relation between China and Tanzania,” says Yang.
He says the China Estate Farm company will continue to cooperate with other Tanzanian companies in a win-win process “for the broad interest of the two nations and its people.”
Despite this, he says they are facing a number of challenges in agriculture including pesticides and the presence of powder in the mice, but says the same problem also exists in China. He adds they are in the process of solving the problem.
On the education drive, Mr Wang says several schools in Kilosa District have benefited in various ways through the support from the China State Farms company. Mvumi Primary School is one of the beneficiaries.
The school has received one computer with one printer, benches and cement for toilet building. The school’s Head Teacher, Mr Evance Urassa says in 2015 the school received 70 benches from the company.
The school has also received 750,000/= from the company for buying cement for construction of washrooms. “They have also helped the school with a tractor for field farming.
The company has been helping us with different kinds of assistance whenever we ask them to assist us,” remarks Mr Urassa. Mvumi Primary School has 12 class rooms with 1,118 pupils (544 boys and 574 girls).