Dodoma — Talks are underway between the government and investors from Vietnam and China to put up investment projects in tobacco processing and cigarette manufacturing.
Trade, Industry and Investment minister Charles Mwijage told the National Assembly yesterday that the government is on the right course to bring such investors to engage in production of cigarettes and also to set up tobacco processing factories in regions where the crop is grown.
The minister was responding to a basic question from Tabora Urban Member of Parliament Emanuel Mwakasaka (CCM) who wanted to know government's plans to set up a tobacco processing factory in Tabora region.
The MP argued that despite being a leading tobacco producer, Tabora Region has for many years lacked a factory to process the cash crop. In response, the minister said that it is the commitment of the Fifth Phase Government to ensure that every region has a factory depending on crops produced in that particular area or other economic activity.
He said last year Tabora Region produced 39,502 tons of tobacco which were all ferried to Morogoro Region for processing and value addition. Tobacco produced in Tabora and other regions of the country is being processed at the Morogoro-based two factories of Tanzania Tobacco Processing Limited (TTPL) and Alliance One Tobacco (AOTT).
Mwijage said that this Sunday a team of investors from China will visit the Tabora Region to study the environment before deciding to set up a factory.
"Our aim is to have serious investors who will be manufacturing cigarettes which conform to international standards using the locally-produced raw material," he said. He said the move will help farmers have a reliable market and to create more employment opportunities for Tanzanians.
He also said that he has already tasked his Permanent Secretary responsible for Investment to meet with his counterparts in the ministries of agriculture and labour to chart out areas where social security funds can invest.
He was responding to Mwakasaka's supplementary question on efforts to engage pension funds in building and developing factories in the country. The minister's directive to his PS came few days after President John Magufuli advised pension funds to change their mindsets and start investing in building factories.
The President had hinted that by eyeing the setting up of factories, the pension funds will register benefits in a short period of time while creating more employment opportunities.
The minister also said that his ministry has already surveyed key areas in Kigoma which government wants investors to focus as the region has good infrastructure to facilitate investment activities. According to Mwijage, areas of investment include palm tree growing, cement and sugar industries.