A Life Transforming SADA-IWAD Agriculture Model PPP at Yagaba; The stories of Nafisah Azundow and Abiru Adam

SADA facilitated a private-public partnership model of agriculture in 2013 to demonstrate that irrigated commercial farming interspaced with smallholder farming system could transform lives, create jobs and eradicate poverty. In 2013, SADA started working closely with Weinco and other partners to create the largest center pivot irrigation system in northern Ghana with a total of 879.95 hectares. This model (Integrated Water and Agriculture Development-IWAD) was to ensure that farmers had access to water all year round that could enable both the commercial farmer and the smallholder to produce crops all year round and to maximize profit. With SADA contributing 20% as equity and facilitating bureaucratic processes to ensure a commencement of this project along the Sisili-Kulpawn rivers in the Mamprugu Moaduri District in northern Region, the country is now bearing the fruits of this investment.

The following are life stories of two beneficiaries of the PPP demonstrating the transformational impact of the projects in their lives;

Life Story before Joining Smallholder Farmer Association

Nafisah Azundow, 35, is a native of Yagaba community in the Mamprugu Maogduri district in the Northern Region of Ghana. She is married with 5 children and caters for her family’s livelihood from peasant farming. Nafisah used to cultivate maize on 1ha land each year while helping her husband on their family land. This was barely for survival.

Land preparation and inputs were self-financed. Tractor services was usually obtained at a fee. Nafisah used to purchase a bag each of NPK and ammonia fertilizer and 2 tins of weedicides for the entire hectares.

She had a yield of between 7 and 10 bags (100kg) at the end of each season. This was her only source of income for keeping her home. When she runs out of stock, she resorts to picking shea nuts and processing “dawadawa”, a local condiment, to generate some income to keep her family. In some cases, Nafisah had to borrow money and migrate to southern part of Ghana during the dry season to work as a head porter (kayaye) to get some money for the family and returns to Yagaba when the farming season begins.

Nafisah joined the IWAD smallholder farmers’ association in 2015. During the wet season in that year, she cultivated maize on a 1.5 acres land on the IWAD concession. Nafisah received technical assistance, tractor services and other inputs on credit basis with the agreement to pay back in produce to IWAD after harvest. In the same year’s dry season, Nafisah cultivated maize on a 1ha land under irrigation on the IWAD concession. Despite the high cost of producing under irrigation and inputs, she could pay off her input and irrigation costs and had some reasonable profit sufficient to easily cater for her family for a year.

“I have seen a remarkable improvement ever since I joined the IWAD smallholder association. I have abandoned the annual “kayaye” business which left untold hardships for me and my family.

I am now able to crop all year round and still have an opportunity to work as a laborer on IWAD’s nucleus farm estate when I don’t even crop in the dry season”, elated Nafisah added. I have two farming seasons now- one in the rainy season and another “artificial rain” through the support of IWAD. Even though I have not been to school, I have gained practical knowledge in agriculture which I have used to increase productivity three-fold, year on year. My income level has boosted within my own community and people now respect me. The technical knowledge I have acquired is being applied to my own field and output has been better than it used to be. For the past two years, I would say I have been walking out of poverty and my self-esteem has increased”.

Life story before joining small holder farmer association

Abiru Adam is 32 years old and a native of Yagaba community in the Mamprugu Maogduri district in the Northern region. He is married a child and depends mainly on farming to sustain his family. Abiru started farming on his family land while a student to supplement his father’s responsibility of catering for the family and generate income to pay his school fees and that of his siblings. Although the family owned a large farmland, he used to cultivate only 2 hectares of maize.

Land preparation and inputs for this 2-hectare farm was usually self-financed. Tractor services was obtained at a fee but when he could not afford tractor services, he ploughed with bulls. Fertilizer, weedicides and other required chemicals were purchased but were mostly insufficient for the farm.

The yields varied from year to year but often between 12 and 15 bags (100kg). If was only able to defray his cost of inputs and labour when the yield was 15 bags. Any figure below resulted in a loss. This yield was his only source of income for keeping his home.

Abiru’s Story after Joining Smallholder Farmer Association

Abiru joined IWAD’s small holder farmer association in 2015. Technical assistance, land preparations and inputs are given to him on credit. This has been very helpful to him because previously, all the necessary inputs were lacking and often insufficient. There were many instances where he could not afford enough inputs.

Also, Fulani herdsmen and their cattle interfered with his early cropping. Since joining the SADA facilitated flagship irrigation project’s smallholder association, he is able to fight the Fulani menace because the association has a voice to influence where the cattle should have passage. Abiru is now able to crop on time without any worries.

According to Abiru, he has an opportunity to farm all year round now because in the wet season, he crops under rainfed and crops under irrigation in the dry season. The technical assistance and inputs given under each of these seasons has increased his yield. In Abiru’s own words, “I am also able to get better yield on my personal field because I am able to transfer knowledge acquired from the smallholder association to my field”, he added.