Opinion

Jude Ayipala: Tumu, the small town feeding a country

I am sure many of you have heard about the many beautiful towns in the Upper West Region of Ghana.

But today, I want to share a trip I took to one of these towns that share a border with Burkina Faso.

This is because, unlike its neighbour, Navrongo, very little is known about this town which houses some of the nation’s most famous tourism sites.

Tumu is a peaceful and well-organized town with the majority of the indigenes being in the youth bracket.

I was therefore amazed when I found out that this seemingly quiet and youthful town is responsible for over 40% of the maize produced and consumed in the entire country.

After a hard day’s work, the town lights up when the people return from their farms.

They gather at various spots and pubs in the town to share stories about their day and dreams for the future. Many take this opportunity to also network and make further plans for their families.

But at this time of the year, there is much excitement in Tumu, as I found out its ‘budding time’.

The period, according to the locals, is a time when farmers can finally count and estimate what they will harvest.

To learn more out this ‘budding time’, I joined 26-year-old Francis to his farm.

Although the land belongs to his family, Francis is in charge of the farm. He is currently cultivating five acres of yellow maize.

The farm is very green and lustrous and he had brought his sisters and cousin to help him spray some weedicides.

Occasionally, he walks around to inspect the field.

He tells me, his community has been productive when it comes to farming because of external help.

According to him, a company that had been in existence for over 15 years rebranded 2 years ago and has since been responsible for the immense improvement in the lives of the farmers.

He said, within the two years, their yield has increased while the conditions of work are much better.

Francis said, the farmers now receive quality fertilizer and chemicals from this company.

Formerly known as Masara, Alsa now works with over 10,000 farmers in Tumu alone.

Each of these farmers, with farm sizes ranging from 2 acres to as large as 1000 acres; are constantly provided with input, machine support, and other practical necessities that would have been impossible to acquire.

Francis said when he graduated from secondary school a few years ago, he had no idea how to raise capital or gain employment, hence his decision to go into farming.

Due to his father’s failing health, he also had no choice but to stay within the community to help care for him.

“I was introduced to Alsa. I went there, and they made me fill forms. They later told me someone will visit my father’s land.

“When they came, the man gave me some information about what should be done on the field for the best yield. Initially, I was thinking that these book people think they know so much. But since they are the ones paying, no problem.”

Francis also revealed that Alsa gives the farmers ready cash during harvest, and then they pay back.

His story left me amazed.

Francis, is only one of the many farmers in Tumu who are fully dedicated to the business of agriculture, particularly maize, sorghum, millet, and rice.

Tumu may not be one of the most popular towns in Ghana, but the next time I eat a ball of kenkey or even chew a piece of chicken (which feeds mainly on maize), I will remember to be thankful to the people of Tumu.