We went to Chella village in Kahama region, visiting the District Committee's office, although he was not there too, being busy with Hilary Clinton. The aim of the rice project is to assist farmers to increase their production of rice and to ensure that they can get it to a processor.
We met with the Chella Water Management Committee accompanied by a TIP member. The Chella dam was completed in March this year (2011), built by villagers on a 'cash for work' scheme and funded by TASU. Unfortunately there have been poor rains this year so the dam was even now quite low, although it is fed from an underground spring and from a channel that collects the run-off from the nearby hills. The dam provides water for irrigation for rice and other crops. When full there is 160 hectares of coverage. Drinking water comes from a domestic water collection point that was constructed by the district water department. Their next project is to construct a cattle trough to stop neighbours driving cattle to the dam and breaking down the sides, as well as fouling the water. Another NGO, SHDEPHA+ Kahama, has agreed to do this, with Oxfam monitoring the situation to ensure the trough is adequate. Villagers will pay to use the trough and this money will go to upkeep of the Dam, which serves 256 households.
Next stop was Kahama Town, where we visited the Bunda Mills rice processing plant. We visited this large scale plant on our last trip in 2008, but it has since changed hands, now being owned by Kahama Oil Mills, who also own two cotton ginning factories and two edible cooking oil factories. This is their first rice mill and it is run by Nicholas Gohel. He takes a lorry to the rice farmers and buys directly from them. He admitted that farmers would get a better price if they graded the rice before selling it to him. We then visited Mrs Natty Bally's small rice processing plant. Farmers sell rice directly to her, bringing the rice to her small scale plant. She told us the there is much competition from other small processors in Kahama. She also said that the rice farmers need to improve quality as well as quantity, for example, by grading their rice using sieves.