As argued here, the kind of information on (foreign) investments in the farming sector that states provide depends on their capacity and willingness to make finance’s footprints and operations visible.
After adopting a series of market-oriented reforms under the auspices of the World Bank and IMF in 1986, Tanzania managed to attract considerable foreign investment into its resource-based sectors from the 2000s onwards. Although many of these investments went into mining, agriculture also attracted some notable investments. Besides strategic investments into sectors such as tea, coffee and horticulture by classic agrobusiness interests, the country saw an increasing inflow of largely speculative capital into agrofuel production from the mid-2000s onwards.
The boom was short-lived, however, and had largely ended by 2018 because of the demise of the global biofuel bonanza. In fact, the country has seen a number of spectacular failures in biofuel investments, including an investment of over US$50 million on its northern coast that saw a Swedish investor’s land title revoked by the government in 2016.
Since 2007 we have also seen an increasing number of private equity investments flowing in, attempting to capitalize on the food and financial crises of 2007/ 8. Unlike Aotearoa New Zealand, however, the state, in this case, has not been of much help when it comes to deciphering such investment deals, or the agrarian landscapes produced by them. The Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), established in 1997 as an investment facilitator and reincarnation of the investment promotion centre, founded in 1990, and the Business Registration Agency (BRELA), are major bottlenecks for foreign investors. In theory, the TIC, as a “a one-stop agency”, also facilitates access to land, as it presides over a land bank filled with land “ready for investment”, but the realities of land occupation in the country meant that investors usually went for land that had been already used by some sort of business entity or to which the government had the title. Even so, both these institutions serve as major clearing houses for foreign investors. Although they may be able to provide information on investors and investee companies, they do not provide easy public access to such information, however. Moreover, neither institution is in a position to tell one how many private equity funds have acquired farms in Tanzania, since different categories of investors are usually lumped together under the meta-category of “foreign investor”, be it a private equity fund, an agrobusiness company or an individual.
Obtaining data on farm asset ownership is equally challenging, as “[l] and is politics in Tanzania” . In the country only 10 per cent of land has been surveyed and titled, as a result of insufficient funds and staff and outdated, paper-based systems . In 2012, after receiving public pressure from the opposition and in the wake of biofuel investments failures, the state commissioned local researchers to find out how many large farms (those above 20.23 hectares) were owned by foreign companies and individuals, but this report has not been officially released to this day . Foreign players were found to own 31 farms with an average size of 2,550 hectares, while foreign individuals owned 14 farms with an average size of 1,031 hectares, adding up to 93,484 hectares. Like the TIC data, the study lumps together different foreign entities without further specification. Other available public data, such as the Land Matrix data, is equally opaque, with many cases missing or containing only limited information on the investment chains behind the deals. Land Matrix data in late 2018 listed only ten concluded transnational land deals in the period from 2010 to 2018, with many other previously listed investments, especially those for agrofuels (many of these projects were announced from 2005 to 2008 but never materialized), having disappeared from the databank in the meantime. This stands in sharp contrast to former estimates of both the number and size of large-scale land deals in Tanzania .
 Chung Y (2017) Engendering the new enclosures: development,
involuntary resettlement and the struggles for social reproduction in
coastal Tanzania. Development and Change 48 (1): 110.
 Locher M and Sulle E (2014) Challenges and methodological flaws
in reporting the global land rush: observations from Tanzania.
Journal of Peasant Studies 41 (4): 569–592.
 Department of Economics (2013) Consultancy services to conduct
an assessment and evaluation of the ownership of farms above 50
acres in Tanzania Mainland 2013. Dar es Salaam: Department of
Economics, University of Dar es Salaam.
 Herrmann R (2017) Large-scale agricultural investments and
smallholder welfare: a comparison of wage labour and outgrower
channels in Tanzania. World Development 90 (C): 294–310; Schoneveld G (2014) The geographic and sectoral patterns of
large-scale farmland investments in sub-Saharan Africa. Food
Policy 48: 34–50; Locher M and Sulle E (2014) Challenges and methodological
flaws in reporting the global land rush: observations from
Tanzania. Journal of Peasant Studies 41 (4): 569–592.