Ikasi salt producers yearn for modern tools
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IT is in the afternoon and the sun is overhead at Ikasi Village, Sanza ward, in Manyoni District Singida Region. The weather however, does not deter hardworking men and women from doing their activities for their daily bread.

Some are making fire, others are collecting sand that is poured into a pit of water to form a salty brine solution which would be later boiled to form salt. All these activities are taking place at Ikasi Village in Sanza ward, Manyoni District in Singida.

Many of those processing salt are from from Chali ward in neighbouring Bahi District in Dodoma. Igongo, Isanga and Makulu villagers have this advantage because they are within the rift valley. The latter makes it difficult for their counterparts from Manyoni to cross to the village endowed with sedimentary deposits.

When residents of Chali ward say they are heading to the industrial area, one can draw a big picture of a place of sophisticated technology used to produce a salt. But the opposite is the truth. Happiness Daudi, one of the salt makers in the area says, she “scoops sand and fills it in a pit with water and steers it to get brine solution.

We boil it to make water evaporate leaving the salt in the pan.” The mother of three says the biggest challenge they are facing is using rudimental tools in salt production. The pans they are using to separate salt from water are not for large scale production adding that they are “mainly depending on the firewood as the source of energy in boiling salty brine solution.”

Ismail Kondo, who has been working in the area for 10 years, says firewood has become scarce. “This is a challenge, we are not benefiting much from this resource given the fact that we are using crude tools,” he adds.

The unit of measurement they are using is also denying them a lot of money, according to the Chali-Igongo village resident, since they are selling salt using buckets and not in weighing scales, adding “When selling salt to businessmen from Dodoma town and elsewhere we compromise our labour charge.

We sell salt for 3,000/-or 5,000/- per bucket at most, depending on the season.” Kondo says despite the low price, the product sells for 1, 000/- a kilo in Dodoma town and other local markets in Bahi District Council. Ephraim Kyanga, a representative of 31 salt makers group says the production of salt has become a challenge, as firewood was scarce though it is the main source of energy in the villages of Bahi and Manyoni districts.

“If we could iodize large quantities of salt and package it, we would generate sufficient income to cater for our family needs,” says Kyanga.The sixty-three-year old advised the government to link them with ‘honest investors’ so they can realize their dream of becoming real local salt investors.

Like salt miners, villages across the mining areas are not benefiting from large scale buyers. Chali-Igongo chairman, George Kabusi whose village is close to the local factory says no tax that is being collected from businessmen who cross the village to the area. He admits that although the site is at Ikasi in Manyoni, due to geographical location, most of trucks that transport the salt cross Chali ward villages in Bahi District.

“People working at the site are from our villages because Manyoni side has been blocked by the Rift Valley. Currently we are collecting nothing from businessmen who arrive in our village to buy salt. They use our infrastructures and we responsible for the security of the area,” the chairman says.

Asked why villages are not collecting tax from the salt business given the fact that trucks carrying salt are crossing to most of villages of Chali, ward’s councilor, Athuman Seif says, currently they have no such system put they will put it in agenda.

Despite the challenges raised by Sanza salt makers, Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) has developed industrial cluster development strategy in 2006 gearing to utilize the country’s diverse resources which will result in sustainable social and economic development of the country.

This year in February, SIDO adopted Industrial Cluster Development Strategy which, according to the organization’s website, “describes the strategic direction and approach to take, in addition to action plan, roles expected to be played by different stakeholders and proposed support measures.”

To start with, SIDO has established industrial estates in Mbeya and Kigoma, aiming to promote particular sectors such as rice milling and edible oil processing. But the state-run organization is expecting other stakeholders in the manner of “involvement and participation.”

Tabling Ministry of Finance and Planning’s 2017/18 estimates, Minister Dr Philip Mpango said the country’s emphasis is on industrial development, pointing out the role of private sector in building the industrial economy. Dr Mpango adds in his budget speech that, “the targeted industries are those which will create jobs, utilize locally produced raw materials and produce goods which will be consumed by majority of people in the country.”

People might think that salt is only useful as a spice and food preservation. But according to United Kingdom’s Maldon Salt Company, only six percent of the salt manufactured in the world is being used for food purposes. The firms sites states, “Apparently we use salt in more than 14,000 different ways from the making of products as varied as plastic, paper, glass, polyester, rubber and fertilizers to household bleach, soaps, detergents and dyes.”

According to the firm, the 68 per cent of all salt manufactured is for industrial use, 6 per cent food, 6 percent agriculture (animal feed), 8 per cent for highway deicing while the remaining 12 per cent is for water conditioning. This entails that salt manufacturing industries in the country can bring trickle down effects should the SIDO attracts more investors.

The multiple use of salt indicates that there is every reason to transform the sector which will increase more opportunity to individuals and boost the country’s economy.

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