The government has started training small-scale salt producers along Lake Gendabi in Hanang district to enable them to improve production.
Gendabi is one of the important salty mining sites in the northern zone, which employ hundreds of villagers in the district.
Speaking at the opening of a five-day training programme for 60 salt producers, Minister for Energy and Minerals William Ngeleja said the training programme was part of the government’s efforts to improve salt production.
“This training is meant to equip small-scale salt producers with requisite skills and knowledge to make them increase salt production in the area,” he said.
The training programme, according to Ngeleja, was meant to uplift salt producers from the poverty trap.
In his speech read on his behalf by Manyara regional commissioner (RC) Eraston Mbwilo, the minister said the salt from Gendabi Lake was of the best quality although there was lack of incentives among small-scale producers.
“For us, this is a challenge because the small-scale producers are not licensed. So, we have to license them and now we are training them to produce salt that meets local and international standards,” the minister said.
Salt mining in Gendabi village started in the 1950s.
So, far there are about 39 licences issued to Gendabi salt miners and 17 licences are in pipeline to be issued to other producers.
Minister Ngeleja is optimistic that the training will act as a stimulus and will help boost the sector.
“From August, last year, to February, this year, the government through the mining department has collected 4m/- as revenue,” he recounted, saying: “This is a very good step.”
Over 500 Gendabi villagers are actively engaging in salt production.
The minister also stressed a need for them along the lake to conserve the environment by planting more trees along the lake.
“These people are trained on different aspects related to their day-to-day activities, including friendly skills, packaging and marketing, mining laws and procedures,” said northern zone mining deputy commissioner Benjamin Mchwampaka.
He said there was a number of issues to be followed up after the training, including building up a go-down in the nearby salt mining site.
Gendabi mining area is estimated to be 387.55 hectares and the salt mined in the area is between 200,000 tonnes and 300,000 tonnes annually.
It is estimated that after the government’s intervention, production of salt in the area is expected to double in the next few years. The price for raw salt of 100kgs is also expected to double from 4,500/- to 10,000/-.
Currently, raw salt from Gendabi village is exported to Rwanda, the DRC and Burundi. One of the participants, Benard Paul said lack of modern working tools, skills and reliable markets, were among the key challenges facing their daily activities in the area.
“We hope that this training will help us improve salt production,” Paul said, adding: “Currently, I’m producing 2,000kgs of salt per season, which starts from August to December every year but my intention is to double the production.”
He commended the responsible ministry for increasing the price of salt from 3,000/- to 4,500/- per 100kgs.