Foreign Land Deals in Tanzania: An Update and a Critical View on the Challenges of Data (re)production

"In the absence of an easily available source of reliable up-to-date data on foreign land deals in Tanzania, many reports have been published that attempt to provide an overview of these deals. While providing this overview is challenging due to the dynamic and non-transparent nature of the 'land grab' phenomenon itself, it has become even more debatable due to certain questionable methods of using and quoting existing data. This leads to several flaws including the ‘virtual survival’ of cancelled land deals ‘on paper’. The consequences are an unnecessarily blurred picture of the land deal situation in Tanzania, and thus an inadequate basis for related political decisions or social actions and a misleading starting point for new research projects. In this paper we illustrate some of the flaws in the use of data so far and give an updated and carefully grounded overview of foreign land deals in Tanzania as of December 2012. Our compilation illustrates that, unlike in the past few years, biofuel projects are no longer the priority of foreign investors. Instead, they are focusing on the production of food crops such as rice, sugar and oil, as well as forestry plantations. This overview does not claim to be complete, but it does provide a traceable set of data, which can serve as a basis for further research as well as for much needed policy debates and decisions."