There is a relatively small segment of young leaders who are so passionate about agriculture in the world; individuals who understand agriculture and will go out to see to the development of the sector; individuals who are able to build relationships, trust and rapport with almost anyone, and then are able to broker the relationships and make connections between people, creating partnerships and alliances, and motivating forward momentum to ‘get things done’ in the agriculture sector.
Mr. Mehdi Saint Andre, Managing Director of YARA Ghana Limited is one of those people, and ‘getting things done’ and driving results through collaboration, partnerships, and relationships is his trademark.
As Managing Director of YARA Ghana, Mehdi as he is affectionately known has sincerely delivered value and benefits to Ghana’s agric sector.
Throughout it all, he has repeatedly proved his ability to lead through diverse and challenging situations in Ghana’s agriculture sector. Mehdi is an excellent agent of change and has a documented track record of accomplishments that include the establishment of YARA distribution centres in most parts of the country, YARA Healthier Cocoa Campaign, establishing of YARA Clinics, YARA CSR activities including the sponsorship for the National Food and Agriculture Show (FAGRO) among others.
YARA UNDER MEHDI
In Ghana, YARA seem to be leading the way in meeting the growing and ever improving needs of farmers to increase food security by increasing yield and output to new pathways that aim at providing livelihood security and poverty alleviation – all these under the reign of Mehdi.
In 2009 for example, YARA demonstrated its commitment in Ghana’s agricultural sector when it sponsored the National Food and Agriculture Show (FAGRO) to promote and market the agriculture potentials of Ghana’s agriculture.
Since then FAGRO has grown to become the only platform for farmers and agriculture stakeholders in Ghana to network, form strategic partnerships with international agric organizations and learn modern techniques of Agricultural marketing.
Under the leadership of Mehdi, YARA also established the Masara N’arziki Programme (meaning “Maize for Prosperity”) in partnership with Wienco Ghana Ltd.
Masara N’arziki Farmers Association (MAFA) is the culmination of Industrial Maize Program with about 8,500 strong-memberships. Among other things, the programme consists of the provision of fertilizers, hybrid seeds, herbicides, insecticides, spraying equipment, innovative farm implements and technical advisory and training services to farmers on credit.
Since the introduction of the MAFA, a lot of the members have had their lives and that of their dependants’ transformed in several ways. One of such farmers is Mohammadu Nindow, a 54 year old farmer in Duyin, a village near Tamale.
Nindow is married to 3 wives and 21 children. According to him, before joining the programme, he could harvest only 3 to 5 bags of maize per acre and could barely take good care of his family.
Nindow is now a YARA retailer making the best nutritional packages available to his peers. Nindow also harvests about 15 to 20 bags of maize per acre every season, he has also constructed a new house, taking good care of his family including the education of his children and has purchased a new motorbike to help him in his farm and domestic activities – Nindow and other hundred farmers across the country have a YARA story to tell every day.
Additionally, late last year, YARA reiterated its CSR initiative with the establishment of a 15-acre maize farm and the construction of a GHC 20, 000 portable water project to support the Royal Seed Home at Adupong Ofankor in Kasoa. The 15-acre farm is a pilot for a “Farmers’ Academy” instituted by YARA with the aim of introducing agriculture and its best practices to the youth for them to better appreciate opportunities in the sector.
This initiative has a potential not only to market Ghana’s agricultural potential but also serve as an important vehicle to educate people especially the youth to get into agriculture and in so doing contribute in increasing food production in the country.
After 6 years of intensive work and promotion on the benefits of good agricultural practices on the cocoa and maize sectors, YARA under Mehdi continue to increase in record time its production capacity by 50% in order to meet the growing smallholder demand in the country.
With the appropriate motivation YARA keeps investing heavily in putting up warehouses in Tamale, Techiman, Tema and Ejura to ensure all year availability of fertilizer for farmers. YARA has also fined tuned its ability to supply the right nutrients to all crops by establishing a computerized blending warehouse in Tema.
Under Mehdi, YARA also reaffirmed its position as the leading Supplier of fertilizers in Ghana by establishing the YARA Healthy Cocoa Campaign to heighten the appeal and visibility of its fertilizers with a special focus on Asaase Wura and Nitrabor for Cocoa farmers.
The success of this campaign can vividly be demonstrated by members of Cocoa Abrabopa Association (CAA) of Wienco who are currently harvesting between 12 to 15 bags of cocoa per acre which contradicts 2 to 3 bags/acre harvested by farmers who do not apply Asaase Wura and Nitrabor.
In advancing pro-poor agriculture, YARA has sensed the need for closer collaboration with government, research and development organizations focusing on pooling resources to harness the synergies leading to desired initiatives for the development of the agricultural sector.
YARA has also demonstrated its support for government with it continued support for the Government subsidy programme on fertilizer and has become a key partner in developing sustainable agriculture, improving productivity and increasing production – moving towards food security.
Ghanaian farmers need seeds, fertilizers, and other farm inputs that are accessible and affordable. Facilities must be in place for farmers’ production and post-harvest needs – YARA is committed to support the develop¬ment of Ghana’s agricultural sector and food production and in addition, invest across the agricultural value chain.
YARA, the world's leading producer and marketer of mineral fertilizers since its establishment in Ghana in 2007 continue to strengthen the quality and depth of input supply and related services along agricultural value chains to increase the productivity of Ghanaian farmers.
A Frenchman in his early thirties, Mehdi Saint Andre believes there are great opportunities for Ghana’ agriculture. For him, facilities must be put in place for farmers’ production and post - harvest needs.
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