Home Editor Picks From Soda Tycoon to Agribusiness Giant: Mo Dewji Eyes Pan-African Farming Dominance

From Soda Tycoon to Agribusiness Giant: Mo Dewji Eyes Pan-African Farming Dominance

by Grace Kisembo

Tanzania’s wealthiest man, Mohammed “Mo” Dewji, has set his sights on a new kind of empire – one rooted in fertile soil, not factory floors. The flamboyant billionaire, known for his Mo Cola beverage line and ownership of the Simba Sports Club, is determined to become Africa’s biggest farmer, according to a recent interview in his palatial Dubai residence.

“Why the hell are we not investing in agriculture?” Dewji boomed, puffing on a vape pen amidst the opulent surroundings. “I want to make Africa, long term, a food basket for the world.”

Dewji’s ambition isn’t mere rhetoric. Through his METL Group conglomerate, he’s already dipping his toes into agribusiness, cultivating crops like tea, avocados, and sisal for rope production. But his current plans dwarf these initial ventures.

He’s seeking a cool $250 million, with $100 million coming from his own pocket, to purchase and modernize a staggering 100,000 hectares of Tanzanian farmland. The vision? To utilize mechanized agriculture to transform these fields into a cornucopia, feeding not just his existing businesses but also supplying surpluses to Tanzanian firms, other African nations, and even Europe.

Dewji’s grand plan, however, isn’t without potential pitfalls. The Tanzanian government has previously threatened to revoke ownership of undeveloped land held by METL. Critics also express concerns about large-scale land acquisitions potentially squeezing out smallholder farmers, a vital sector in Tanzania’s agricultural landscape.

“Getting out of his way” is a phrase Dewji himself used in the interview, hinting at the bureaucratic hurdles and potential resistance he might face. But the self-assured tycoon remains undeterred.

“There will be challenges,” he acknowledges, “but the potential rewards are just too great to ignore.” Whether Dewji’s audacious plan blossoms into an African agricultural powerhouse or withers under the harsh realities of the continent’s land politics remains to be seen. One thing’s for certain: Mo Dewji’s agricultural ambitions are sure to sow the seeds of a fascinating story in the years to come.

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