SOUTHERN residents living in the neighbourhood of Mchuchuma and Liganga coal and iron ore extraction projects in Ludewa district will now get entrepreneurial training, loans and modern crop and animal husbandry skills to produce for the growing commodities market in the region.
The area which covers Mtwara, Njombe and Ruvuma regions has vast potential of iron ore and coal currently being extracted by a joint venture between National Development Corporation (NDC) and China's Sichuan Hongda Company Limited.
"There is a growing demand for food due to a rapidly growing population with arrival of hundreds of Chinese experts in the area," said NDC acting Director General, Shannel Mvungi.
Mr Mvungi who exchanged a memorandum of understanding with National Economic Empowerment Council (NEEC) Executive Secretary, Dr Anacleti Kashuliza last Friday, said things like chicken ran out of stock recently when a group of 80 Chinese experts arrived in Ludewa to start work on the over 6.4trn/- project.
"Traders had to start supplying chicken from Songea because there was none in the region," noted Mvungi who said under the new agreement, the project will seek to give residents skills in modern livestock husbandry practices.
The NEEC's Dr Kashuliza commended NDC for the initiative which will not only assist residents of the southern regions benefit from their resource exploitation but further assist in the government's initiative to fight poverty.
"Under this MoU, we will also mobilize resources to build industrial parks which will employ people and develop skills," Dr Kashuliza noted. He said agriculture will be given priority as a market for food is readily available but limited skills and access to loans is holding back most of the traditional smallholder farmers.
"We will advocate formation of cooperative societies so that it's easy to access many farmers through training and loans," noted the NEEC chief executive.
In 2011, NDC and Sichuan Hongda signed the mega contract which will involve construction of the Mchuchuma integrated coal mine, a 600MW thermal power station and the Liganga iron ore mine. Under the deal, Sichuan Hongda will own 80 per cent of the joint venture project, with the remaining stake held by state-run NDC.
Experts said that the Liganga area is rich in iron ore, vanadium and titanium minerals with reserves estimated in the region between 200 and 1,200 million metric tons while Mchuchuma deposits have more than 480 million tons of coal reserves.