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Opinions of Monday, 25 August 2014

Columnist: Ibrahim, Mohammed saani

’Masara na’ arziki’’ impacting positively

‘’Masara na’ arziki’’ impacting positively to ghana’s socio- economic dev’t

By- Mohammed Saani Ibrahim- The Accra Times

Masara N’ Arziki farmers Association (MAFA) was established almost a decade ago with the concept of lending support to small and medium scale holder farmers to adopt good agricultural practices. True to its vision, farmers under the Masara N’ Ariziki project have experienced high yield over the years due to the use of improved seeds. Hence their lives have improved better than before
Masara N’Arziki (meaning “Maize for Prosperity”) has its headquarters in Tamale in the Northern Region and covers the entire Northern part of Ghana (i.e. Northern Region, Upper East and Upper West Regions.
The award winning farmers association was recently adjudged the best professional services and trade organization in the North at the just ended Northern business fair in August 2014.
Although the operations of Masara N’ Ariziki have led to an increase in maize production over the years, Ghana unfortunately still has a maize supply deficit.
Masara N’ Ariziki has over the years supported maize farmers to receive more income through the use of improved technology which has increased productivity.
Indeed the provision of fertilizers, hybrid seeds, herbicides, insecticides, spraying equipment, training of farmers on innovative farming practices, training on credit basis has culminated in the impeccable success story of the association.
Over the last five years, the Association has been working hand in hand with various service providers including the media as a tool of getting connected to the people.
Currently, the association is recognized as the biggest maize farmers’ association in West Africa. Although it started with a modest membership of 1,500, the association is currently the largest maize farmers association in West Africa, with registered members of over 11, 500 individual farmers in 2013/2014 farming season.
Officially, the association currently has 125 working staff on their monthly pay row, service providers and indirect beneficiaries who are virtually employees, are over 1000 people. All these people and their families depend on the operation of Masara N’ Arziki as their source of livelihood. According to official records, the association has paid GHC 192,000 to loading boys working for Masara on haulage.
Over GHC 100,000 is been spent, for media engagement on sponsored radio programmes, advertisement and on publication. A lot of acknowledgement are received on their continues extra ordinary effort in curbing the bush fire menace.
Masara undoubtedly has contributed significantly to the socio-economic transformation of the people in its operational areas and Ghana at large. The benefits of the operations of Masara are very visible in its catchment areas as it continues to develop the people in different ways.
Over the last two farming season member of the association in Sissala West and East districts have made profit of GHC10, 000,000. Springing up of decent houses and improved living conditions among farming communities under the MAFA project are clear examples of its success stories. Most non-Masara farmers are currently facing challenges as a result of lack of subsidy on farm inputs.
As a result of the huge cost involved, most of these farmers have decreased the number of hectares they cultivate. They are unable to afford the current prices for inputs as they are not part of the MAFA project to enjoy the easy access to affordable credit in a form of high quality inputs, guaranteed markets to members, group marketing to obtain better prices and among others
Transporters who are engaged in the carting of Masara produce from their farms to various warehouses, on records have received over GHC4, 493,264.22 as payment in the just ended farming season for haulage. Indeed that amount is only captured in the Tumu zone out of the seven zones.
Corporate Social responsibility:
Masara N’ Ariziki farmers Association, as a corporate body is not oblivious to the fact that it has to undertake its social responsibility. It has therefore over the past six years supported the annual farmers day celebrations in its catchment areas in diverse ways, improved seeds, inputs and others are given to support the occasion for on ward distribution to best farmers across every district it operates.
Again the $100 dollars fee paid by groups who come to Masara to solicit information to complement their research is used to support schools under development.
Beyond all these development and aside the taxes paid to various taxes. MAFA has paid GHC302, 799.18 tax levy for withholding tax and on rent. GHC250.OOO was paid to the district assemblies in the Tumu zone, indisputably the highest tax paying organization in the area. This mammoth tax levy needs to be attended to, the high tax levy, which is consequently slapped on the ordinary farmer hinder the expansion of the growing Association and over burden farmers. Instead, our gallant farmers should be well motivated in terms of taxation. Although several attempts have been made to impress on the assemblies to review the high tax system moderately but have turn futile.
With the absence of subsidy this year, some of the untold good stories of MAFA have started unfolding. Members of the MAFA are offered a bag of fertilizer at GHC 85.00 accompanied with early delivery to farmers. This is attributed to bargaining power as a cooperative entity, Whereas bag of fertilizer is sold between GHC100.00 and GHC 110.00 in the market.
It is about time we all join hands to laud and sing the untold success stories of the lives-changing project, as it has been acknowledged at the world economic forum in Davao. Call it ”the messier of farmers in Northern Ghana”, as it has extended its tentacles into other crops such as soya beans, sorghum, onions and lately cotton.
Thankfully all members of MAFA received their inputs in the right quantities and at right time, completely different from complains from other quarters. Reference can be made to the Tuesday, August 20,2014 edition of the daily graphic in the center page story of star Ghana and Diamond Fm collaboration forum.
To accomplish sustainability in food security and empowerment of members, MAFA does not only add value to their produce, they are also into serious production. Over 40,000 tons of maize were produced in the 2012/2013 farming season over 39% supplements to the maize deficit in Ghana.