Profile of National Best Farmer – 2015

Background

 

Mr. Ibrahim Musah is a 48-year-old farmer from the Dormaa Municipality of the Brong Ahafo Region. With no formal education Mr Musah has been farming for the past 13 years. His Farm, the IM Unity Farm Company Limited, employs a total of 108 workers, comprising 75 full-time employees, 30 casual employees, and three others, assisting in the capacity of family relations. The Farm is located within the Dormaa Municipality and other farming communities such as Yaakrom and Kofiasuah. Mr Musah is married with six children.

 

Diversification/Integration of Farming

 

Mr Musah’s Farm is highly diversified with his crop enterprises covering the broad areas of roots and tubers (cassava, yam and cocoyam), cereals (maize), vegetables (tomato, pepper, and okro), plantation crops (cocoa, oil palm, plantain, citrus, and coconut) and timber species (teak and terminalia). In terms of his animal enterprises, he has large ruminants (cattle), small ruminants (goats and sheep), exotic and local poultry birds (layers and broilers), turkeys, and guinea fowls. Additionally, Mr Musah has 10 beehives, which have been colonised; a mushroom chamber containing 3000 bags and two fish ponds stocked with tilapia and catfish.

 

Degree of Integration of Farming Operations

 

Mr Musah cultivates crops and rears farm animals for very good reasons and consistent with the principles of integration for a good farming operations. The leftovers of his crop harvests are used to feed his farm animals notably cattle, sheep and goats; byproducts of his oil palm processing firm constitute some of his feed ingredients; The droppings of his farm animals constitute farmyard manure, which is applied to maintain soil fertility and cut back the cost of inputs especially inorganic fertilizer. Besides, the manure is also used to fertilize his fish ponds. Fish byproducts from his fish ponds are similarly used as feed ingredient for his poultry farm.

 

Knowledge of Husbandry Practices

 

Mr Musah has fairly good knowledge of crop husbandry practices. He has over the years obtained his planting materials from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Programmes. He has employed good sanitation on his crop and animal farms to address the problem of pests and diseases. The practice of non­burning of harvest residue has helped to conserve soil moisture, while the use of farmyard manure has maintained soil fertility. Cassava and oil palm processing constitute the core of processing activities of the crop enterprise. Planting and harvesting are both carried out’ manually observing recommendations from Agricultural Extension Agents.

 

In terms of animal husbandry practices, Mr Musah has good criteria for the selection of breeding animals. His desire to keep particular species of animal is motivated by the demands of the market and the monetary returns. He relies heavily on the advice of the Veterinary Officer in charge of the community to address the health needs of his animals. Feeding of his cattle is done extensively through grazing, while he uses leftovers of harvested crops such as cassava to feed his small ruminants. He keeps to the structured vaccination regime to secure the health of his farm animals.

 

Environmental Awareness

 

Periodic high temperatures, lack of rainfall, bushfires and strong winds destroy farm structure and causing lodging of crops. Mr Musah has introduced more drinkers at the poultry farm to keep the birds cool during the period of high temperatures. He staggers the planting of his crops to reduce the value of loss incurred in the event of rain failure. While trees are planted to serve as windbreaks to the problem of lodging, firebelts are constructed to reduce the harmful effects of bushfires.

 

Record Keeping

 

Record keeping represents a permanent feature of the farm operations of IM Unity Farm Company Limited. The Farm keeps several types of records for various reasons, some of which include:

  • To facilitate planning
  • To monitor diseases of farm animals
  • To carry out profit-and-loss analysis
  • To facilitate loan acquisition (ADB)
  • To track expenditure on labour

 

Adoption of Improved Technologies

 

Thanks to his good working relationship with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture through the Agricultural Extension Agent assigned to the community, Mr Musah has acquired beneficial farming technologies, which have impacted positively on his farming operations. Technologies adopted include:

  • Planting in line consistent withthe recommended crop planting distances to maximise plant density
  • Technology of multiplying disease-free plantain suckers
  • Preparation of yam mounds
  • Proper construction of cattle kraal
  • Introduction of fingerlings into fish pond
  • Bio – sanitation practices in poultry farms 

     
     

Role of Farmer in the Community

 

For people in his farming community, Mr Musah is perceived as a down-to-earth person, and a role model, who no doubt is a source of motivation for the youth in the community He is the Chairman of the Dormaa Maize Farmers Association, a Board Member of the Dormaa Poultry Farmers Association and a Patron of the Unity Keep Fit Club in the community.

He has to his credit two awards, namely

  • National Best Small Ruminant Farmer for 2010
  • Brong Ahafo Regional Best Poultry Farmer for 2014

As part of the social responsibility to his community, Mr Musah has undertaken the following projects:

  • Donation of clothing and assorted food items including poultry products and rice to 400 widows in the community at the end of each year
  • Educational sponsorship to needy but brilliant orphans
  • Renovation of the District Court building
  • Renovation of the Dormaa Veterinary Clinic
  • Donation of four batteries to the District Fire and Police Service

General Impression

 

IM Unity Farm Company Limited is highly diversified in both the crop and farm animal enterprises, with its own commercial feed mill for the poultry section of the Farm. Besides, the Farm is strong in cassava processing, producing soya-fortified gari for the export market. By his accomplishments, Mr Musah has given true meaning to the thinking that the lack of formal education is not a limitation to achievement and that with strong willpower, high level of commitment and tenacity of purpose, it is possible to succeed.

The rather poor road network to some of his farms has not dampened his resolve to move on. It is also worth noting that his innovative marketing strategies have made it possible to reach out to both the local and export market within the sub-region. Mr Musah has shown the needed business acumen that is likely to motivate the Ghanaian youth to venture into farming notwithstanding the obvious challenges.