By Franklin Ocheneyi
“BASICALLY, we are working to improve agricultural 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.”
Mr. Rabiu Umar, the Managing Director, Ashaka, Lafarge Africa Plc, told Journalists during a tour of the Ashaka Cement plant and the company’s Coal mine in Maiganga, Akko, Local Ggovernment Area, Gombe State. He said that this move would also help his oganisation to achieve greener and more efficient energy use in their cement manufacturing business.
According to him, Lafarge is also partnering with the National Agricultural Research Institute, Zaria to introduce industrial ecology in the region. He revealed that the company also provides free healthcare to the communities around it at the rate of over 200 patients per day.
“We have a clinic here that caters for 200 to 250 people from the community on a daily basis. It is also an HIV center. All the people who come to this clinic, we treat them at our own expense,” he said.
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 year 2007.
Answering questions from journalists, Mr. Umar said the company is 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 having constructed 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.
“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,” he said.