Opinions Sun, 21 Dec 2014

RE: Masara Never Prosecute Any Farmer

The Masara N' Arziki Farmers' Association has observed with deep regrets attempts by some individuals to destroy and tarnish the good image of the company and the relationship that is existing between it and farmers' groups.

There have been some allegations in an article being distributed to the effect that farmers are saying they have to be made to pay back their credit during times of drought.

The article is also alleging that, whether a poor harvest is the farmers’ fault or is due to a disaster beyond farmers’ control, Masara N’Arziki is on their neck for settlement, and in the event of failure they are prosecuted.

This claims are falsehoods being perpetrated to undermine and discredit the good works of the company.

However, it is a fact that Masara Na'Arziki does not offer assistance to individual farmers but deals with farmers' groups of five to ten members.

Although Masara N'Arzaki has the right to prosecute farmers who have defaulted by not meeting the requirements as signed with them in the contract document, spelling out the terms and conditions including agreed purchasing fee, Masara has never done that. Indeed, all farmers are aware of the terms and conditions including the purchasing price of Maize due for harvesting season. However, any price differentials or problems would be considered to have come from the farmer since they are unable to settle the terms and conditions of the agreement they entered to with Masara.

Also, in the event of default, the particular group that is found to be lagging, will be prevented from taking part in the following year. This is the penalty they have to pay, but not prosecution.

Masara Na'Arziki therefore called on farmers who claim they have been prosecuted to come forward. It is also calling on the media which want to do due diligence to verify facts and figures from the company.

Notwithstanding, we all know that maize production has witnessed an increase because of the release of several hybrids and other synthetic varieties.

In the light supporting farmers that Masara N'Arziki, the culmination of industrial maize farmers, was initiated in 2005.

The main vision of Masara N' Arziki (Hausa phrase meaning maize for prosperity) is to support maize farmers to do what they are doing much better and to help them to get more income through the use of improved technology that increases production of their farms.

The programme package consists of the providing farmers with credit in kind in the form of hybrid maize seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, spraying equipment and innovative farm implements on credit.

Technical advisory and training services are included and these training programmes are to introduce farmers to the most improved methods of maize production. After harvest, farmers are in turn expected to pay back the credit.

Notable among many of the issues raised is the repayment is a specified quantity of maize grain farmers are to provide. The quantity to be collected is to be agreed upon between the farmers and Masara N'Arziki at the start of the farming season. The company also promised buying any excess maize from the farmers at competitive market prices.

It will interest you to note that for the past two years, recovery has been very good, we have made about 90% debt recovery and therefore see no reason why we should prosecute farmers.

Since its inception, Masara N'Arziki has therefore contributed positively through increased food production and income especially to the farmers in its operational areas.

Just last year, Masara N’Arziki Farmers Association paid farmers under their umbrella to climax the 2013 farming season. The farmers who have guaranteed price for their produce are measuring high yields even in the prevalence of draught in the just ended season.

The good yield resulted in the bumper harvest which could partly be attributed to quality inputs by both Wienco and YARA Ghana Limited and its timely supply to members by the Association.

"Produce in the fields was at the right moisture level to be harvested and therefore urged the over 10,000 members across their operational areas to deliver their produce in time to facilitate quick payment," this was a confession of the leader of the farmer's associations.

However, farmer groups whose produce have reached their Masara N'Arziki ware houses have already been paid, urging other farmers under the association to speed up harvest for repayment so that they can maximize their profits.

Masara N'Arziki is therefore appealing to the public to disregard any negative speculations about its activities.

Columnist: Akodor, Peter