NEWMONT GOLD Ghana Limited, a multinational gold mining company operating in the Asutifi District of the Brong Ahafo region, has collaborated with state agencies to promote food and agriculture production in the country.
An Agricultural Improvement and Land Access Programme (AILAP) initiated by the Newmont Ahafo Mine in partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to the develop agriculture in selected communities in the district is said to be chalking successes in food production.
The project, which began in 2006 with the support of the Asutifi District Assembly and traditional leaders, had resulted in a significant increase in the production of cocoa, plantain and maize in the area.
Beneficiary communities included Kenyase No 1, Kenyase No 2, Ntotroso, Gyedu, Wamahinso where Newmont is currently operating.
Communications Manager of Newmont, Agbeko Kwame Azumah disclosed these during an interaction with selected members of the Parliamentary Press Corps at the company’s Ahafo mining site.
He said the programme was aimed at increasing crop production, promoting crop diversity, facilitating access to land, as well as provision of free farm inputs and extension services to the farmers.
Mr. Azumah said in addition to providing inputs such as seed, fertilizer and herbicides to the farmers, Newmont had also disbursed an amount of GHC1 million to 5,400 farmers to support their farming activities.
According to him, a total amount of $5.4 million has so far been spent on the programme to ensure that mining co-exist with agriculture, which was the mainstay of the local economy in the communities before the mining.
“It is worthy to mention that the National Best Plantain farmer for 2010 is a beneficiary of AILAP,” Mr. Azumah disclosed.
AILAP, he explained, was a post-resettlement mitigation programme developed to assist farmers directly affected by the development of the Ahafo Mine to re-establish their agricultural livelihood.
“Since its inception, the implementation of AILAP has been in consonance with the land access timetable of the mine. Thus whenever there is mine expansion which requires land acquisition, there is AILAP. AILAP 1 and 2 were implemented from 2006 to 2008 and from 2009 to 2011 respectively. AILAP 3 commenced in 2011 and will end in 2013,” Azumah emphasised.
In addition to these, about 220 members of the communities in the mining area have received GHC70, 000 through micro credits scheme.
The communications manager said Newmont, which started gold production in the country in 2006, has two mines in Ahafo and Akyem with a total workforce of over 6,400.
The company, according to him, contributed 1.3 per cent of Ghana’s total GDP, 20.7 per cent of gold exports, paid US$227 million taxes to government and spent $292 million of its gross revenue in the country.
In area of education, he said the mining company had provided scholarships to 2,335 students, comprising 1,482 males and 853 females from the host communities at the Senior High School and tertiary levels under the Newmont Ahafo Development Foundation (NADeF).
He added that over 30 infrastructural and non-infrastructural projects were completed across 10 communities where the company operated in 2011 under the NADeF at the total cost of $4.5 million.
The projects included classroom blocks, community and school libraries, palaces for chiefs, an office complex for the district assembly, Ntotroso Police Station, a court building for Kenyasi, rehabilitation of feeder roads, teachers quarters for the Kenyasi Anglican School, recreational facilities, among others
He pointed out that Newmont (Ahafo mine) paid approximately $8.25 million to the Foundation for development projects in the first quarter of 2012.
“In line with the terms of the Ahafo Social Responsibility Agreement, 24.4 per cent of the fund goes to human resource development, 23 per cent to infrastructure development, 18 per cent to social amenities, 17 per cent to economic empowerment, 12 per cent for natural resource protection and 6 per cent to cultural heritage and sports.