By Sodiq Lawal
Dangote Cement has announced that no fewer than 60 farmers have participated in its empowerment programme at the Ibese host communities in Ogun State. In a statement, the company noted that the empowerment programme would help strengthen their capacity for modern agriculture practices to boost food production. The company management explained that the maiden edition of the empowerment programme was specifically targeted at maize cropping.
The Ibese Plant Director, Azad Nawabuddin, said the programme involved farmers being drawn from all the 17 host communities of the cement company and that, it was part of the community development agreement recently signed by both parties. He added that the company would always be ready to help the people, especially farmers in any way possible, to boost food production. Nawabuddin told the farmers that the cement company, in collaboration with some expert consultants, mapped out practical training on capacity development on good agriculture practices for soil fertility and to maximise maize cropping. He said the company would not stop at the level of training, but would also support farmers with clearing, distribution of inputs such as seeds, herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers, agricultural extension as well as identifying the required route to the market.
Giving modalities for the selected farmers, Nawabuddin explained that to ensure maximum impact, only farmers whose farm size was not more than one hectare at the commencement of the programme and who have been in active farming in the last three years, were considered for the project, which was organised in partnership with an indigenous Agric-support services firm, Midstream Agro. “Ibese Plant host communities are endowed with vast and arable land as well as good climatic conditions necessary for sustainable agricultural ventures hence, the company’s support to the farmers for improved output with greater efficiency”, he said while assuring that Dangote Cement would continue to offer support to farmers for socio-economic transformation of the communities.
Speaking during the close-out meeting of the empowerment initiative, the Lead Consultant of Midstream Agro, Olumide Oladipupo, thanked the company for investing in the development of farmers in its host communities while advocating for more novel initiatives such as the one championed by Dangote Cement. “The need for other corporate organisations to join the conscious efforts to drive more people into agriculture across the host communities cannot be over-emphasised as it is one of the most effective ways to reduce unemployment and over-dependence on such companies for survival”, Oladipupo stated.