Two pension schemes in Tanzania have ventured into sugarcane farming to address the current shortage of sugar in the country.
The National Social Security Fund and the PPF Pensions Fund recently launched the 12,000-acre Mbigiri Farm and the 63,000-acre Mkulazi Farm in Morogoro region of eastern Tanzania.
The schemes have also established the Mkulazi II Sugarcane Farming and Sugar Factory Project to run the farms. The project seeks to produce some 250,000 tonnes of sugar every year.
Minister for Industries and Trade Charles Mwijage told The EastAfrican that Tanzania needs 600,000 tonnes of sugar a year.
Four local factories -- Kilombero Sugar Company Ltd, Mtibwa Sugar Estates Ltd, Kagera Sugar Ltd and TPC Ltd -- produce on average 290,000 tonnes annually.
The government relies on imports to meet the deficit. Domestic consumption is estimated at 420,000 tonnes while the rest is for industrial use.
NSSF director general Godius Kahyarara said the sugar production project would also generate eight megawatts of power.
"We have found a contractor for the construction of the sugar plant. The goal is to plant 3,000 acres of sugarcane by December; this assignment has already created at least 150 jobs in the area," said Prof Kahyarara.
The government allocated Tsh17 billion ($8 million) to relocate residents to pave the way for the project.
Last year, sugar production in the country touched 290,112 tonnes, according to the Sugar Board of Tanzania.