Turning Over a New Leaf – LAZHEDI Helps Youth Start Greenhouse Farming Business

After more than a year of job hunting, Chacha Marwa from Tanzania saw no prospects on the horizon. His only option was to trespass onto private mining operations and try extracting traces of gold, a process that’s illegal and involves dangerous chemicals. But an opportunity arrived in the form of the Lake Zone Health and Economic Development Initiative (LAZHEDI), funded by USAID and Acacia Mining. To avoid continuing with his risky lifestyle, Chacha joined a group of young people mobilized by Africare/Tanzania and the Acacia Social Responsibility team to start a greenhouse farming business.

Chacha joined the Nyakegema youth group, which is a collective of 500 youths who formerly made money by intruding upon private mines. Once Chacha learned about the greenhouse farming business, he traveled seven kilometers from Bung’eng’e village to participate because he believed his dream of retiring from illegal mining would finally come true. Since he joined Nyakegema Greenhouse, his hard work, passion and enthusiasm have delivered positive results. Prior to LAZHEDI, he had never been involved in horticultural farming, but thanks to his exceptional level of commitment to the business, along with training and mentorship, Chacha became the greenhouse manager.

The greenhouse is now a key factor in Nyakagema’s success. Chacha’s hard work has helped Nyakegema grow and reach new customers. The greenhouse now employs 17 former mining intruders from the surrounding villages, including local women, and Chacha’s group has become a popular local source for fresh vegetables and fruits.

Access to farm land and the skills to use it effectively are becoming prerequisites for success for aspiring Tanzanian entrepreneurs. Yet horticultural training is especially hard to come by in rural areas, particularly in Nyamongo where mining for gold seems to be the only option. By partnering with the Acacia Mining Community Relation team and local government authorities in Tanzania, Africare is filling these training gaps.

Chacha’s story shows the power of Tanzania’s youth and proves it’s possible for young people to find income generating activities that are legal, profitable and valuable to their community.