Tanzania to seize 'idle' land from rogue investors

 14 Jun 2017 - 13:14

Tanzania to seize 'idle' land from rogue investors
File Photo.

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DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania: Officials in Tanzania are to start seizing unused land and hand it over to poor farmers in a bid to tackle speculation.

President John Magufuli late Tuesday ordered regional commissioners to seize swathes of idle land.

“You should seize all undeveloped farms and allocate them to the people who will develop them,” he said during a meeting with commissioners in Dar es Salaam that was broadcast on state TV.

For decades, local and foreign investors have bought large tracts of land but many have failed to develop them, according to the government.

Last year, the east African nation said it would start identifying farms or land parcels larger than 20 hectares that are deemed “idle” and give them to peasant farmers.

“Our intention is to identify those holding large areas and farms without developing them,” Land Minister William Lukuvi said at the time. “We will revoke their title deeds and give the land to those in need.”

The measures are being taken amid concerns about land speculation in a country where agriculture is the backbone of the economy.

According to the government, farming accounts for around half of the national income and provides employment for around 75 percent of Tanzanians.

Peasant farmers use around 48.7 million hectares (120.3 million acres) of farmland, the Agriculture Ministry said.