Dar es Salaam — Unilever, a leading global supplier of fast moving consumer goods, has chosen the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) to expand its tea production.
The move comes barely five months after Unilever and the Tanzania government went into an ambitious partnership to reinvigorate the Tanzanian tea industry.
The planned investment will triple Unilever's tea output from smallholders by way of out-growers schemes, according to the Tanzania Investment Centre, CEO Ms. Juliet Kairuki.
She said 2014 has kicked off with a positive start in respect to investment in the agriculture sector in Tanzania.
Kairuki confirmed Unilever had applied and was granted National Strategic Investor Status in December 2013 at a National Investment Steering Committee (NISC) meeting convened by the Prime Minister Mizengo Peter Pinda in Dodoma.
Unilever's move is said to a signal of their strong confidence in the Tanzanian investment climate and the country's future economic prospects.
The project is expected to not only generate significant export revenue $148.68 million (projected at 110 million Euro), but also position Tanzania's tea as an original tea of international repute.
As a partner of Tanzania's SAGCOT initiative, Unilever has expressed its full commitment to ensure that its investment also addresses social economic and environmental goals. Smallholders will be accredited according to the rain forest alliance certification.
The Unilever investment will catalyze significant socio-economic development in the Iringa and Njombe regions by creating 10,000 more jobs, enhancing the livelihoods of another 2000 to 3000 tea small holders, and in total, touching the lives of an estimated 50,000 people.
During the recent World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Christopher Chiza, the Minister of Agriculture met with top Unilever officials who repeated their commitment to investing in Tanzania.
Sophia Kaduma, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, revealed recently that Unilever has signed a MoU with the Ministry, the Tanzania Tea Board and the Tanzania Smallholder Tea Development Agency, to push the project in line with the social and economic aspirations of the Tanzania government.
According to the MoU signed last year in Dodoma, the partnership is aimed to create 5,000 jobs linked to the Unilever Mufindi tea estates, improve incomes on 6,000 hectares of smallholder tea farms and increase the value of tea exports by over $ 94.61million equivalent to 70 million Euro a year.