Gaate is about an hour drive away from the Abuja municipality. But this rural settlement along the Keffi-Akwanga road in Kokona Local Government Area of Nasarawa State could as well have been in another country. Blessed with vast arable land, majority of the residents are subsistent farmers and neither dream or feel the glitz of the Nigerian federal capital.
The community has no basic amenities, so the people depend on another community far away for even health care services as there is no facility for such in the village. Their only primary school is in ruins and the impact of this is evident as only very few of the residents attempt to communicate in English.
But change appears to be creeping into Gaate village. A cooperative farming society, Nigerian Farmers Group, NFG-CS, is raising the living standard in the community following an agreement that gave the group part of the community’s land to kick start a cooperative farming model.
“We had an agreement with the cooperative to farm on our land for five years and things have improved for us ever since,” Ibrahim Adamu, the village head of Gaate told PREMIUM TIME’S reporter through an interpreter on Saturday.
“Our major challenge is hunger due to poverty. We are local farmers and we do it on a very small scale. Before, there was no road to this place but when this cooperative came, the first thing they did was to create a road.
“About 200 people from this community have been employed to work in the cooperative’s farm. We plant the farm and also work as security and get paid on a daily basis. People who don’t have what they do now have work and are helping their families,” Mr. Adamu said.
“Apart from employing our people, this cooperative also promised to build a new primary school for us as we don’t have any school that is functional or even a health care centre. We really appreciate this farming initiative in our community and we support them.”
Aisha Gako, a local farmer employed by the cooperative, said she is paid N1,500 daily.
“Because of this farm, we can now eat and take care of our family. We plant maize and work on the farm every day after which we receive N1,500,” she said.
For Ibrahim Karshi, the upturn in fortune is massive since his first taste of paid employment in the village. Doubling as a security guard and farm worker, he said he gets paid twice daily.
“I’m employed as a security in this farm. I used to work as a security man in Abuja; so, when this cooperative came in, I saw it as an opportunity to do the job I was doing in Abuja here in my home for a better pay. I also work at the farm.
“We work from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. then go on a break and continue from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Then we guard the farm at night. I receive N1,000 as security and N1,500 for working in the farm every day.
“The only challenge we are having sometimes are the Fulani herdsmen. Their cows enter the farm but we are trying to build a blockade so cows can no longer enter. There was a land dispute between us and the herdsmen which resulted to a man’s hand being chopped off.
“But we have resolved the issue,” Mr. Karshi said.
In spite of the transformation their community is experiencing, the people say government has no reason to continue to ignore Gaate.
Adamu Baba, the youth leader of the community, who also spoke, decried government’s lack of concern for the basic needs of the community.
“We don’t have a secondary school, we only have a primary school but it’s not good at all. As you can see, it’s not functional. There is no health care centre. We have to carry our people to far away Sabon Gida if there is any health emergency.
“We have so many emergencies, which can be addressed if we have help near us. It is a problem. We have had a case where a pregnant woman lost a baby because there is no health assistant around. The government should help us and also assist this farming cooperative.”
Source from allAfrica