Africa’s real land grab
Never mind foreign interlopers. African urbanites are scooping up more landPosted: July 23, 2016
AFTER half an hour poking around Martin Shem’s farm, Paul Kavishe is impressed, even a little jealous. “He has done well,” says Mr Kavishe. “He’s a real farmer!” This is strange praise, not because Mr Shem’s dairy, maize and mango-growing operation on the outskirts of Morogoro is not admirable, but because both men have had university careers. For middle-class Tanzanians, though, a successful farmer trumps a successful academic.
“Every Tanzanian is a farmer,” explains Ali Aboud, another professor who has moved into agriculture. He cultivates about 20 hectares of rice paddy; in the past three years a businessman from Dar es Salaam and another city-dweller have bought big farms near his fields. These men are part of a quiet, hard-to-track but momentous change in Africa, which has profound consequences for the continent’s most important industry.