- Published on Thursday, 16 August 2012 01:36
- Written by MUGINI JACOB
- Hits: 856
LIFE for Ms Nyangi Daniel (40) is positive again. Ms Nyangi has every reason to smile because she is now able to take care of her eight children due to the income she generates from her horticultural farming, after securing a market for her products with Sodexo, a locally based international hospitality company that feeds hundreds of North Mara Gold Mine clients.
Ms Nyangi is only one of the local villagers living near the mine selling vegetables and fruits to the Sodexo established, income generating groups which have the aim of uplifting the villagers living standards in the recent years.
“We thank God because the coming of Sodexo has created a sweet market for our onions and green spinach (mchicha) at all times”, Ms Nyangi, a resident of Nyakunguru village which is located few metres away from the mine, in the Northern Tarime District of the Mara Region, told the ‘Daily News’ at a visit to the village earlier this week.
Ms Nyangi is the chairperson of the UTU Farmers Group, which was established in 2010, and embarked on the production of onions, tomatoes, green spinach and green pepper (pipili hoho) among other things. The UTU Farmers Group has 20 members of which twelve are women and eight are men at the moment.
“For sure we used to experience a very difficult life but now things have changed to be good. For example, I am now able to feed, educate my children as well as meeting their medical costs”, Ms Nyangi a mother of eight children narrates.
Ms Nyangi recalls one of her most recently prosperous moments, in which she found herself pocketing 8 m/- cash after selling onions to Sodexo. Horticultural farming has enabled the UTU members to improve their housings, by replacing their traditional grass thatched houses with modern houses in the recent months, according to her.
“Since we started, six UTU members including myself have managed to build modern houses, and others are also educating their children in secondary schools and colleges”, she said. Nyakunguru village she said has suitable land and climate for onion cultivation; describing onions as the best horticultural product to play a significant role in ridding residents of poverty in the area.
“I used to grow onions from the past but there was no market, I am now earning money every month like just a civil after the coming of Sodexo. Onions do not need a lot of pesticides and they are not perishable“, she explained.
She thanked the hospitality company for its on-going efforts to promote horticultural farming in the villages located near the mine. Like Ms Nyangi, Mr Marwa Jonathan (32), a peasant from the neighbouring Matongo village, is happy with the market which has been created by Sodexo for fruits and vegetables in the area.
“We are now cultivating things that we could not have grown without the presence of Sodexo and there is sufficient market. They even come and collect our products by using their own transport without charging us anything”, Mr Jonathan who belongs to Nyabibago Agricultural Group group at Matongo village said.
Nyabibago group has 16 members who cultivate cabbages, water melon, egg plants, cucumbers and tomatoes among other things. Mr Jonathan admitted that the hospitality company has also been providing the groups with a variety of seeds free of charge in a bid to boost horticultural farming in the area.
“Things are really changing to be good and my income has increased from almost zero to 10,000/- per day”, Mr Jonathan said. Sodexo plans to donate a water tank with the capacity of accommodating 10,000 litres of water, to the Nyabibago group for irrigation purposes in the next several weeks, according to its Community Development Mr Kassim Yahaya.
The group operates a horticultural farm covering about 60 acres in the Matongo village, according to Mr Jonathan. “We will also give the Nyabibago group irrigation pipes to conduct irrigation drops on their farms by taping water from the River Tigithe“, the company’s community official said.
So far Sodexo has spent over 3.6 billion shillings to buy various goods, including vegetables and fruits from the local communities surrounding the mine between 2008 and 2012. Part of the money has also been paid to several groups that have been subcontracted to provide other services like laundry, cleaning and beverages to Sodexo during the same period.
“We are dealing with 19 groups almost on a daily basis and apart from guaranteeing them a market, we allow them to sell their products in any other markets they have access to, and our aim is to keep the groups growing”, said Mr Nicholas Herselman, a Senior Operations Manager for Sodexo Tanzania Ltd at the North Mara Gold Mine site.
North Mara is one of the largest gold mines operated by African Barrick Gold (ABG), a leader in Tanzanian gold production. “We are feeding about 1,200 people at the North Mara Gold Mine site daily, and purchasing goods such as fruits and vegetables is a requirement from ABG, which is a very mutually beneficial practice because it lowers our operational costs and creates a sustainable industry”, Mr Herselman explained.
The locally based international hospitality company is also supporting horticultural farming groups by providing them with seeds, irrigation tools, and trainings on management, basic operations, accounts and entrepreneurship skills
Sodexo is tipped to be ABG’s largest contractor operating at the North Mara Gold Mine.It employs 220 people hailing from the villages located near the mine, according to Mr Yahaya.