Tanzania’s Richest Man Aims to Become Africa’s Leading Farmer

Forbes Daily Briefing – Monday, March 18th, 2024

In a luxurious $50 million home in Dubai, Tanzania’s wealthiest individual, Muhammad Mo Dewji, shares his vision of transforming Africa into the world’s food basket. Dewji, aged 48, born and bred in Tanzania, and a notable figure for his ventures in various businesses through his conglomerate, METL Group, is now setting his sights on revolutionizing agriculture in Tanzania, 2,500 miles away from his current abode. A photo of Zanzibar’s streets, a testament to his roots, adorns the walls behind him as he discusses his ambitions.

From METL to Agriculture

METL Group, under Dewji’s leadership, spans across several sectors including textile manufacturing and food production. The conglomerate already cultivates tea, avocados, and sisal, integrating these crops into its business operations. Dewji’s new objective is to drastically expand his agricultural ventures by investing $250 million, including $100 million of his own capital, to acquire and modernize 100,000 hectares of farmland in Tanzania. This initiative, spurred by the global food and fertilizer crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, aims to bolster METL’s supply chain, support Tanzanian companies, and reach markets in Africa and Europe.

Agriculture in Tanzania

Agriculture plays a pivotal role in Tanzania’s economy, contributing to one-third of its $75 billion GDP. However, the sector is dominated by small-scale subsistence farming, leading to widespread food insecurity and poverty. Dewji’s plan to introduce larger, more efficient farms could be a turning point in addressing these challenges, despite potential drawbacks such as human displacement and environmental concerns.

Impact and Future Plans

Dewji’s venture is not just about Tanzania; it has the potential to set a precedent for agricultural development across Africa. With aspirations to replicate this model in countries like Zambia and Mozambique, investing over $1 billion in large-scale farming, Dewji is in talks with leaders to first demonstrate success in Tanzania. His approach, if successful, could significantly influence economic development and poverty reduction in the continent.

For detailed coverage, check out John Hyatt’s article on Forbes.com.