GGM out to revolutionise paddy, sunflower farming in Geita Region

10Nov 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
GGM out to revolutionise paddy, sunflower farming in Geita Region

GEITA Gold Mine (GGM) working with Geita Regional Secretariat has introduced the ‘Geita Economic Development Programme (GEDP) which, among other projects, focuses on paddy and sunflower farming.

Geita Gold Mine Managing Director Terry Mulpeter hands over a brand new tractor to paddy farmers at Saragulwa village in the region recently.

Apart from the agribusiness projects the programme also covers other Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) projects such as welding, hydra form-brick making, tailoring, knitting and embroidery.

With more than 300 individuals directly benefiting from these projects, communities are enthusiastic and GGM playing a leading role in the programme, believes that in the long run, this programme will be life changing impacting both individuals as well as the community at large.

The Geita Economic Development Programme (GEDP) is a five-year programme which commenced in September 2015. A collaboration between GGM and Geita Regional Secretariat and local authorities, the programme aims to improve community livelihoods and create employment, especially for the youth and women.

The agricultural sector has become one of the successful stories on GEDP. Part of the GEDP goals was to promote innovations among the farmers which would result in a commercialised farming in order to contribute to social and economic development.

The GEDP, fully sponsored by GGM, is aimed at stimulating and diversifying the local economy through infrastructure growth, enterprise development, skills training and the expansion of local agriculture.

The primary goal of the programme is to stimulate the development of an alternative economy independent of the mine and to increase local procurement by the mine.

In this programme, GGM is supporting in the development of farming skills, purchase of quality seeds as well as entrepreneurial training for farmers in 7 villages with recent development, it purchased a brand new John Deer tractor and its farming tools. The initiative is aimed at facilitating the entry of youth into economic markets.

An example of such success is the introduction of ten young people who were initially trained to be able to supply fruits and vegetables to GGM. The project has since expanded to include more than 100 local youths who joined in three different Farmers’ Cooperative Societies and are currently self-employed through the initiatives.

Yuda Daudi Ng’hindi is chairman of the Ntabusakama Farmers Cooperative Union based in Saragulwa and Nungwe communities. He believes that the programme, if well managed by the communities, will lead to alleviation of poverty in the surrounding communities.

“Geita Gold Mine has been coordinating in the exchange programmes whereby farmers conducted several visits within Geita Region and other pilot zones to carefully learn from different successful projects.

The aim of this exchange was to encourage our farmers to develop innovations within their farms and be able to utilise available resources and lead to sustainable use of resources through farmer to farmer learning and experiences sharing,” explains Ng’ihindi.

In phase I of GEDP, farmers surprisingly found themselves harvesting beyond their expectation. Before the introduction of this programme, they were used to harvest between 9 and 12 bags of paddy per acre but now with the correct seed and method of farming introduced, the harvest has raised to between 30 and 35 bags per acre!

GGM in collaboration with Chollima Seed Agriculture Research Institute have brought new technologies through the agronomists in the field to ensure farmers obtain constant training on new seeds and proper care of the rice.

Farmers now plant one rice seed per hole instead of five seeds or more per hole as they were doing previously. Initially farmers were worried that this might drastically reduce their output. On the contrary, the space provided for the seed ensured that nearly all the seeds survived and were productive.

Simon Shayo, the Vice President (Sustainability) for the mine explains how the programme aims at changing lives in the surrounding communities:

“As a responsible corporate citizen, GGM believes in finding sustainable projects which would turn the surrounding neighbours into a better situation than before in areas of social and economic stability.

The GEDP projects continue to improve the quality of life to the families to as well as to stimulate a new way of thinking whereby the beneficiaries are now planning on ways to grow and widen their horizon. It is encouraging to realise that the initial plan of GEDP which was to improve paddy and sunflower production is gradually being realised and embraced by the communities.”

AngloGold Ashanti is Africa’s largest and the world’s third largest gold mining company with 20 operations in four continents around the globe. Geita Gold Mine is AngloGold Ashanti’s wholly owned and managed operation in Tanzania.

It is also the largest single gold mining operation in its annual gold production and Tanzania’s most productive mine. In 2015 alone, GGM produced 527,000oz of Gold, Geita Gold Mine is a significant contributor to the Tanzanian economy through taxes, direct and indirect employment and investment in one of the region's most important mines.

GGM employed an average of 3,041 people in 2015, inclusive of permanent employees and contractors. At least 95 percent of GGM employees are Tanzanian nationals. Local purchase covered 3893 items with over 109bn spending to Geita local suppliers.