FINDING ways to turn agriculture into an all-year-round activity instead of a seasonal occupation, as it currently is in Northeast Nigeria will greatly contribute to the economy of the region.
Such exercise will also help to tackle youth unemployment in the community.
According to the Managing Director, Ashaka, Lafarge Africa Plc Mr Rabiu Umar, this move would also help his organisation to achieve the greener and more efficient energy use in their cement manufacturing business. This position was shared by Mr Umar on while speaking with journalists in Ashaka recently.
Mr Umar, who took journalists on a tour of the Ashaka Cement plant and the company’s Coal mine in Maiganga, Akko, Local Government Area, Gombe State that Lafarge was partnering with the National Agricultural Research Institute, Zaria to introduce industrial ecology in the region.
“Basically, we are working to improve the yield by 30 to 40 percent of the existing activity and also to introduce other farming practices that would further increase the yield of the same piece of land the farmers use. That way, we would be able to create a sustainable income stream for our communities and we hope that by doing that, the benefit would be felt all across the region,” he said.
He revealed that the company also provides free healthcare to the communities around it at the rate of over 200 patients per day.
He added that “We have a clinic here that caters for between 200 to 250 people from the community on a daily basis. It is also an HIV centre.
All the people who come to this clinic, we treat them at our own expense.”
Speaking about the company’s coal mine located in Maiganga, the MD said the company was planning to replicate the free healthcare delivery system in the community where mining activities began in the year 2007.
Responding to questions from journalists, Mr Umar said the company was working on developing the community in a sustainable way whereby members of the community would no longer need to depend on handouts.
He added that in addition to boreholes built in Maiganga, the company regularly delivers potable water to the community, using tankers. He assured the audience that plans to build more boreholes in the community are ongoing.
Earlier during the tour of projects donated to communities, the Headmaster of Sangaru Primary School, Mr Nuru Adamu expressed appreciation to the Ashaka Cement Company for constructing two blocks of classrooms and a perimeter fence for the school.
Mr Adamu revealed that for 25 years, before the blocks of classrooms were donated to the school, the pupils took their classes under trees. He said the students, were at that time, easily distracted while their parents feared for their safety at school.
He added, however, that the situation has changed dramatically following the intervention by Ashaka Cement Company.
Mr Adamu said: “Class control has become easier now than when the pupils had to take their classes under the tree. The fencing and classroom also increased the number of enrollment in the school. Before the intervention by Ashaka Cement, the population of the pupils was about 1,800 but after, it grew to over 2,000.”
The headmaster appealed to the company not to relent in its efforts to better the lives of people in its host community, he called on the company to add an ICT centre and borehole to the list of things it will do for the school in future.
The Chairman, Aminci support group in Ashaka community, Muhammed Damina Umar, also expressed appreciation to Ashaka Cement company for helping his group in its course to bring down the number of people who contract the HIV virus in the community annually.
He said the support by the company has enabled the support group to reach people in remote areas with drugs, food items and counselling which all contributed to the decrease in the rate of HIV infection in the last few years.
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