Tue, Sep 13th, 2011 | Tanzania Four people including former Minister of State, Zanzibar Presidents Office, Ambassador Mohamed Ramia, 64, escaped death by a whisker after the aircraft they were travelling in crashed shortly after take off. The accident occurred on Tuesday at around 8:18 am three minutes after take off at a maize field that belongs to the Uyole Agriculture Research Centre here in Mbeya city. Mr Kadeha said that the accident involved a Cessna aircraft, registration number 9 JB1O, from South Africa. Ambassador Ramia with three other passengers were on their way to visit Kapunga rice farms in Mbarali District in the region which are property of Kapunga Rice project. Narrating the incident, Mbeya Airport Manager, Mr Valentine Kadeha, named the other passengers as Sinry Tahir, 50 , a Tanzanian of Asian origin, Christian Mmasi, 30, and a pilot who was identified as J Ruvamark, a South African. When the plane crashed, there was an interruption in communication between the control tower and the pilot. The pilot alerted the relevant authorities including Police, fire brigade, Mbeya referral hospital and the Mbeya Regional Commissioner who made a follow up and thereafter it was reported that the aircraft had crashed in a maize field at Uyole Agriculture Research Centre, Mr Kadeha explained. He said that, although the accident had not claimed any lives, the four passengers sustained minor bruises. The incident paralyzed all the activities in the area as many residents from the area rushed to the crash site to catch a glimpse of the plane. According to Mr Kadeha, the ill-fated aircraft would remain at the scene pending preliminary investigations to be carried out by Tanzania Aviation Authority. This is the second accident involving a small aircraft in the same area after a plane carrying a patient toDar es Salaam crashed killing the him on the spot. By PETI SIYAME, Tanzania Daily News **** RICE production at Kapunga Rice Irrigation Farm in Mbeya Region has improved, thanks to a 10bn/- investment on infrastructure rehabilitation and improvement by its investor - Export Trading Company Limited. Kapunga farm was formerly run by the state-owned National Agricultural Food Corporation (NAFCO). The project's spokesperson Ramadhani Tarishi told reporters here recently that the invested money had transformed the farm into a highly productive undertaking. "Seasonal rice harvests have tremendously increased after the rehabilitation and we expect more harvests and improvement in future," said Mr Tarishi. When the investor took over the farm from NAFCO in 2006 following the government spearheaded privatisation drive, the project put under cultivation 200 hectares from which it harvested 284 tonnes of rice. But during the 2007/08 farming season, 423 hectares were cultivated, yielding 1,269 tonnes of rice. The output increased further to 2,115 tonnes harvested from 604 hectares cultivated in 2008/09. The spokesman said the project expects to harvest about 8,500 tonnes in the 2009/10 crop season. "In fact, we were forced to spend a lot of money to revamp operations of the farm that was on the verge of collapse when we took it from NAFCO," he said. The investor had spent 56,000 Us dollars for the rehabilitation of the main-water intake facility in the farm. Also 40,000 Us dollars for revamping irrigation-water pipes and 480,000 Us dollars was allocated for the repairing of channels and 960,000 US dollars on the construction of roads in the project complex. About 240,000 was spent in the re-construction of the project's buildings including staff quarters, 2.3m Us dollars for purchasing new equipment, 2.3m Us dollars for new irrigation technologies and 560,000 Us dollars for repairing milling plant. "There are other costs which are still being compiled, but roughly, we spent over 10bn/- in shaping up Kapunga Rice Irrigation Farm to the present standard," said Tarishi.