Monday 31 October 2022

Barrick brings new hope to local youths at North Mara

A high profile delegation comprising senior government and Barrick officials, local leaders visits Barrick’s agri-business development youth funded project in a rural village near North Mara Gold Mine recently. (Photo by Mara Online News)

By Mara Online News Reporter, Tarime

THERE is renewed hope and life is set to change for the better for this group of about 100 youths living in Matongo, a remote village located near North Mara Gold Mine after they teamed up to venture in horticulture.

In their ambitious Agri-business Development project funded by Barrick Gold, the proprietor of North Mara Gold mine, the youth are hoping to change their lifestyle and become role models.

The beneficiaries have pledged to work hard and eventually turn the pilot project into a great achievement, to be emulated by other villages surrounding the gold mine.

A number of youths in these villages have been saboteurs, frequently invading the mine with the aim of stealing gold sand.

The expectations are great that this project will significantly help discourage young men from invading the mine and turn their attention to useful and lawful income generation activities.

“As villagers and being in the youth group, we are very grateful to the mine for supporting us to start this project. We won’t let them down,” said Chacha Samson Machori, the leader of the youth running the project.

Machori and local leaders told a high-profile delegation from Barrick and the government of Tanzania, who visited the 10 -acre farm on Saturday last week that the project has been received with open hands in the village.

“This is a 10-acre plot and every acre is managed by 10 youths to begin with,” said the councilor for Matongo Ward, Mr Godfrey Kigoye.

Government agricultural experts said besides empowering the youth economically, the project will prevent these young men from invading the mine to scoop gold sand.

“We sat with the villagers to work out a solution to this long standing problem because many youths have been relying on gold sand from the mine for their survival. This is also a demonstration farm,” Mr Stanley Rubalila from the agriculture department at Tarime District Council said.

In the meantime, a group of 10 youths (men and women) have chosen to sow seeds from an array of crops. These include tomato, cucumber, green pepper, carrot, red finger, egg plant and spinach.

“As government officials, we are offering extension services and each group has its own crop of choice,” Mr Rubalila added.

The Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) is also being involved to ensure that the farm produce meet international standards.

Member of Parliament for Tarime Rural where North Mara Gold Mine is located, Mr Mwita Waitara showered praise on the project describing it as a good start.

“I thank Barrick North Mara. This is an opportunity to our youths. Let this good relationship continue to blossom,” the MP said.

Dr Steven Kiruswa, the Deputy Minister for Minerals said implementation of the project was a good example that shows how mining sectors can have multiple benefits to Tanzanians.

“This farm will produce products that will be purchased by the gold mine. We thank Barrick for coming up with this concept,” Dr Kisurwa pointed out.

The Deputy Minister used the opportunity to urge the villagers surrounding the gold mine to refrain from land speculation and other unfriendly acts in the area around the mine.

North Mara is operated in partnership between Barrick Gold Corporation and the Government of Tanzania through Twiga Minerals.

“This gold mine is a government property. Don’t cause trouble, instead let us run sustainable development projects,” said Dr Kisurwa.

On his side, Acting Regional Commissioner for Mara Region, Dr Yahaya Nawanda also commended the youth project and called on district councils in the region to borrow a leaf from it.

“This can be a centre of excellence for others to come and learn. Our district council ought to borrow a leaf and use the 10 percent loans given to the youth to start projects similar to this one,” Dr Nawanda said.

Good news is that, Barrick has promised to continue supporting the project by going an extra mile offering first market of the products.

"The first market for the crops produced by the youth will be the Barrick Company. We are ready to support them,” said Barrick General Manager in Tanzania, Dr Melkiory Ngido.

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