AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi Mine has said its effort to enhance agriculture development in the Obuasi municipality is being undermined by illegal mining activities, or galamsey, despite committing US$620,000 into local agricultural programmes.
Senior Sustainability Manager, of AngloGold Ashanti-Obuasi Mine, Emmanuel Baidoo, said the galamsey activities are happening close to the mine’s concession being used for farming purposes. The development, he noted, is a disincentive to farming and will stall the mine’s intervention to help boost local food production if not immediately stopped.
Addressing a gathering of traditional authorities, farmers and other stakeholders at the launching of AngloGold Ashanti Ghana’s Agri Business programme dubbed ‘Obuasi Goes Agro’ (OGA), he said it is the objective of AngloGold Ashanti to contribute in the creation of sustainable job opportunities for the host communities.
He said this is being realised through the establishment of wholesome vegetable/cereal production and marketing in host communities as an alternative viable economic activity.
He explained that the OGA programme, which is an agricultural development intervention, forms part of the mine’s three-year Social Management Plan to contribute to the social and economic development of local communities.
He said AngloGold Ashanti has dedicated US$417,000 of the US$620,000 to the OGA programme, which has so far engaged over 90 community members (outgrowers).
The OGA programme is being done on a 170-acre land belonging to the mine, and currently comprises 150 acres of maize and 20 acres of vegetables cultivated in the pilot phase.
Mr. Baidoo said: “This is part of the measures to make sure that the mine is on course is on course in terms of its agenda to diversify the local economy of Obuasi. The OGA programme seeks to boost the local economy; and in terms of social closure, when the mine is not there, the farms and skills acquired by beneficiaries will be used to cultivate food for themselves and their communities”.
He said AngloGold Ashanti is committed to partnering with host communities and governments to promote safe and responsible mining.
It was indicated that the OGA programme is being implemented as a social enterprise in partnership with Ever Green Initiative, KB Agricare Consult, and beneficiary Vegetable and Maize Outgrower Associations. It also includes the Department of Agriculture at the Obuasi Municipal Assembly and the Obuasi Business Advisory Centre.
To support the work of agricultural extension officers in the Obuasi Municipality, AngloGold Ashanti donated a brand-new motorbike and a computer set, as well as a set of personal protective equipment (PPE), to the Municipal Directorate of Agriculture.
Ashanti Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Rev. John Manu, acknowledged that the programme complements government’s flagship ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ) programme.
He said the intervention is a significant contribution to the greenhouse initiative, whose main objective is to produce vegetables that will be accepted by the international market. “I believe this initiative has arrived at the right time, when government’s interest to help boost agriculture in Ghana is at a high.”
While acknowledging some of the remarkable progress made under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme, he recognised that stronger partnerships with the private sector will help to sustain the gains. For example, he said, the Ashanti Region has, as of August 2020, recorded 218,535 beneficiaries of the PFJ out of a targetted 300,000 farmers.