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Panic as earthquake aftershocks hit remote areas of west Tanzania

ARUSHA Tanzania (Xinhua) -- There was panic in parts of western Tanzania’s region of Rukwa and Katavi as a 5.7 Richter Scale earthquake jolted the region around Lake Tanganyika, with tremors being felt deep into Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi, Congo and beyond.

In Sumbawanga Municipality, witnesses said the tremors caused lots of fears amongst residents in the area as some dashed out thinking their houses were about to collapse.

Maria Kayanda, a resident of Sumbawanga, the headquarters of Rukwa Region said the tremors were experienced at around 3 a.m. local time when she was asleep.

"Then suddenly I noticed the house was shaking.

"I quickly rushed out, but I realized that I left my child inside the house.

"I quickly grabbed my son. Everyone was in a panic," she said.

Philipo Siulapwa of Kasanga Township, located along Lake Tanganyika shores said he couldn’t sleep after realizing that it was an earthquake.

He said that people’s fear were based on what had happened in north-western Tanzania’s region of Kagera when an earthquake struck the area, killing more than 100 people, injuring many and displacing dozens last year.

George Kyando, Rukwa Regional Police Commander, said that the tremors were highly experienced in areas close to Lake Tanganyika, though no causalities were reported in relation to the earthquake.

He said that fears were due to bad experiences they have on what happened in Kagera last September.

Kyando said that it happened at around 3:30 a.m. local time and people in the area were forced to come outside their houses as they feared that it would come again.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, early on Friday, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake hit near the Africa’s deepest lake-Lake Tanganyika, with the epicenter in northern Zambia.


Birds destroy 600 ha of paddy in northern Tanzania

ARUSHA Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Quelea birds have destroyed more than 600 hectares of paddy in Tanzania’s northern region of Kilimanjaro, authorities confirmed Thursday.

Rosemary Sitaki, Same District Commissioner, confirmed the invasion, saying:

"We are aware of the new challenge; and we’ve consulted the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries for the provision of expertise and pesticides to kill the destructive birds in the area."

Sitaki said that farmers in Ndung’u Irrigation Scheme located on the slopes of Pare mountain ranges are highly affected by the invasive bird species in the district.

She said that the invasive birds threaten food security in the area located some kilometers from Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro.

The official said that Ndung’u Irrigation Scheme has a total of 680 hectares, with more than 2,500 small-holder farmers who are involving in paddy farming.

"The affected area is one of the important areas for producing quality rice in Kilimanjaro and the country at large," the official said, disclosing that the scheme offers employment to many people in the area.

Halima Shabaan, one of the affected paddy growers in the area, who said that in just three weeks, the destructive birds have destroyed almost all farms in the irrigation scheme, posing a serious food security concerns.

"We are forced to guard the farms throughout the day...we are not sure if we are going to harvest enough food since the birds have eaten all the rice," Halima said.

Kapongo Juma, chairman of Ndung’u Irrigation Scheme, described the birds’ invasion as a "deadly" challenge taking into account that rice is farming is a live line for many farmers in the area.

He said that farmers have been deploying a number of workers to rescue their farms, "but I think they are becoming overwhelmed with the challenge as these birds are in big numbers."

Experts have said that although they prefer the seeds of wild grasses to those of cultivated crops, their huge numbers make them a constant threat to fields of sorghum, wheat, barley, millet, and rice.

The average quelea bird eats around 10 grams of grain per day - roughly half its body weight - so a flock of 2 million can devour as much as 20 tons of grain in a single day.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates the agricultural losses attributable to the quelea in excess of 50 million U.S. dollars annually.

Tanzania arrests 13 Ethiopians for illegal entry

ARUSHA Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian police on Tuesday announced to have arrested 13 Ethiopian nationals for illegal entry.

Wilbroad Mutafungwa, Kilimanjaro Regional Police Commander, said that the illegal immigrants had no relevant documents and were also said to have established a temporary camp in an area that is close to the Tanzania-Kenya boarder.

He said the Ethiopian migrants were arrested on Monday, after the police were informed of their presence at Minoa area, Mwanga District.

"A good number of police officers had been deployed at the areas to ensure that non-Tanzanians do not get access to the country with the exception of those with permits," the regional police chief said.

Ebrosy Mwanguku, head of the region’s immigration department, said his office had launched a search for Kenyans who are said to have crossed into the country through illegal routes in Rombo District.

He said some of the Kenyan immigrants are working in private schools.

"These teachers cross the boarders every day after classes were over for fears of being arrested since they do not have resident and work permits", said Mwanguku.

Statistics from the immigration office in Kilimanjaro Region showed that to date, more than 259 illegal migrants have been repatriated after they had entered into the country without permits.

A number of Ethiopian migrants have been using Tanzania as a gateway to South Africa where they to look for "greener pastures".

Tanzania’s northern region launches 7.5 mln USD HIV/AIDS campaign

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Shinyanga region authorities in northern Tanzania on Thursday announced a 7.5 million U.S. dollars campaign to fight new HIV/AIDS infections.

The Shinyanga region authorities will team up with Doctors with Africa, an international non-profit organization from Italy and the Shinyanga Catholic Church towards implementation of the five-year-campaign.

Ariana Bortolani, Doctors with Africa Project Manager, said more than 300,000 people will be reached through education, testing and treatment by the time the campaign is completed in 2021.

"At least 20,000 patients who will be found infected with the disease will receive medical care and antiretroviral drugs for their entire lives," said Bortolani.

Bortolani said initially the project will be implemented in the Shinyanga municipality, and Kishapu district and other districts.

He said apart from testing and treatment, districts in this project will also benefit by getting medical supplies and infrastructure improvement at their health centers and dispensaries.

Shinyanga regional commissioner Zainab Terrack called on Shinyanga region residents to turn out in big numbers for HIV/AIDS counseling, testing and treatment during the campaign.

Statistics by the Tanzania National Aids Commission (TACAIDS) show that Shinyanga region, with 7.4 percent infections, is fourth in the east African nation’s 30 regions for being infected by HIV/AIDS.

Njombe region in southern highlands is leading by 14 percent infections of the disease followed by Iringa region with 9.1 percent and Mbeya region by 9.0 percent.

Tanzania targets 40 per cent increase in sugar production

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian sugar authorities said on Thursday that the east African nation planned to increase sugar production from the current 300,000 tonnes annually to 420,000 tonnes by 2020/2021.

Henry Semwaza, Director General of Sugar Board of Tanzania, said the government has directed sugar factories in the east African country to increase production of the commodity.

Semwaza was speaking at a meeting that brought together stakeholders in the sugar industry held in Morogoro region, home to two major sugar industries.

"We want our sugar factories to expand and construct new industries in order to increase production to at least to 420,000 tonnes by 2020/2021," he said.

Semwaza added: "Owners of sugar factories will be required to support small-scale sugarcane growers in order to increase production."

Tanzania is a sugar deficit country, with four large factories producing about 300,000 tonnes of raw sugar annually, leaving a shortfall of 220,000 tonnes that is met by imports.

Currently, there are four sugar factories in Tanzania, including Kilombero, TPC, Mtibwa and Kagera with a total of 31,000 hectares under plantation management. Combined production reaches about 2.1 million tonnes, with an average yield of approximately 68 tonnes per hectare.

Three of the four factories have cane outgrowers with a total of 27,000 hectares producing about 710,000 tonnes of cane, at an average yield of about 27 tonnes per hectare.


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