-farming and livestock keeping.
The minister’s step followed complaints from Ngandinga villagers over lack of settlements and farming land as the ranch occupies most village space, and the Namtumbo Wildlife Management Area.
The villagers said they were often arrested, have their dwellings and crops burned down as they looked for land.
In the past the 6,147 hectare NARCO ranch at Hanga was used to expand dairy cattle but since 1995 it wasn’t operating and remained an uninhabited forest.
Speaking at a public rally at the village in Gumbilo ward, Madaba District in Ruvuma Region during the minister’s visit, the villagers said for many years they have been living in humiliation without help despite having referred the issue to the government.
Minister Mpina said after considerable complaints from the villagers, the ministry consulted with the Ruvuma regional authorities to have the village area surveyed and visible boundaries erected, setting aside 4,347 hectares for NARCO activities.
He called upon villagers living in Blocks No 2 and 14 to move on their own accord to make room for ranching.
Those who have grown crops in areas that remain with NARCO should wait for the harvest after which ought to move, he specified.
Herders in the blocks that are within the ranch are required to move to the Mhukuli Lilahi area after procedure for its demarcation is completed, he stated.
The Madaba District Council shall allot the newly dispended area among the residents to pursue farming and other activities, he said, cautioning those who harbour ideas of expanding into NARCO reserved land.
Songea District Commissioner Pololet Mgema lauded the minister for resolving the conflict whose solution had eluded previous ministers and other decision makers.
Madaba MP Joseph Mhagama (CCM) said the conflict was humiliating the villagers as they were repeatedly arrested and taken to court – all in the search for farming areas.
He ensured the villagers that the CCM government shall always listen to people’s complaints and does its work without tiring to enable people to live peacefully.
After the minister’s announcement many of those who attended the rally fell to the ground as a gesture of appreciation for President John Magufuli in having the conflict resolved.