CASSAVA growers have something to smile about after a Chinese investor expressed his intention to set up a food processing factory in the country, with the crop being the major raw material.
Shangdong Taianguiyu Food Co. Limited expressed the intention to construct a food processing factory during a meeting between its representatives and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr Augustine Mahiga on Tuesday, who is currently on a four day official visit to China.
According to information provided by the Tanzanian Ambassador to China, Mr Mbelwa Kairuki, the investor would produce various foods for the Chinese market, including noodles from cassava. In its determination to implement the project, the investor would next March send a team of experts for a ground work in preparation for setting up the investment.
During talks, the representatives told Dr Mahiga that at initial stages of operation, the food factory would demand 3,000 tonnes of cassava every day, creating a golden opportunity for Tanzanian farmers. Dr Mahiga welcomed the investor's plan, asking them also to provide Tanzanian cassava growers with modern technologies that would help them increase productivity.
Cassava is one of the crops that are in high demand in China. A soup known as 'Taopica Pudding' is one of the highly favoured soup by Chinese people made from cassava. The crop is also important for the production of a number of strategic products such as high quality flour, starch, animal feeds and paper pulp.
The Minister also met China's Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission who assured him (Dr Mahiga), that China would continue giving top priority to Tanzania in its programme of moving its businesses and relocating industries to Africa.
The Deputy Chairman also assured Dr Mahiga that the Asian nation, with second largest economy in the world, would continue giving top priority to Tanzania in implementing projects under One Belt One Road initiative that include construction of infrastructure.
Dr Mahiga also gave a lecture at China Foreign Affairs University during which he said Tanzania and China were throwing their weight into implementing projects in the areas of roads, railway, power, agricultural reforms, aviation (airports) and industrialisation.
The visit by Dr Mahiga to China has yielded positive results, bearing in mind that early Tuesday the Minister met and held talks with Xian Qujiang, a potential investor who is planning to invest in the tourism industry and other strategic businesses. Xian Qujiang plans to construct a lodge in Serengeti, a resort at Mount Kilimanjaro and a resort in Zanzibar.
Other proposed areas of investment include establishment of domestic airlines for sightseeing and charter service, a theme park at Mount Kilimanjaro and a luxury train service for tourists on Tanzania, Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA).
The investor is also planning to construct a tourist park at Bagamoyo Export Zone, record TV series and a documentary on TAZARA and also come up with a publication and copyright trading on Chinese books.
Dr Mahiga who is expected to wind up his tour today, has been visiting the second largest economy at the invitation of the Chinese Foreign Minister, Mr Wang Yi. Cassava farming in the country received a major boost after the government recently signed a deal with a Chinese firm worth over 2.5tr/- to commercialise its farming.
The agreement was signed between the government and the Chinese firm called Tanzania Agricultural Export Processing Zone Limited and Epoch Agriculture (TAEPZ) and with the technical assistance of ACAI. Under the agreement, China will consume 2.5 million metric tonnes of cassava from Tanzania every year.