The Upper East Regional Minister, Hon. Stephen Yakubu, has observed that although majority of Ghana’s small-scale farmers are women who generate about eighty percent of the country’s total agricultural production, their capacities as agri-women are far below expected levels.
He said women farmers in the Upper East region, like their counterpart in other parts of the country are still challenged with concerns like insufficient agricultural training, limited access to markets, insufficient access to credit facilities and innovative marketing approaches, amongst others.
“In the Upper East, the problems of our women farmers is further compounded by their inability to access arable land and other related productive resources for agricultural production,” he stressed.
He noted that, this nagging situation is largely due to the land tenure system, and some cultural practices and orientation associated with the people of the Upper East region.
“Let me therefore use this platform to appeal to our traditional authorities in the region to adequately release arable lands and other productive resources to our women for agricultural purposes,” he stated.
The Minister made this appeal in a speech read on his behalf at the 3rd Women in Food and Agricultural leadership Training Forum (WOFAGRIC) and Gold in the Soil Awards, recently organized by Agrihouse Foundation, in Bolgatana in the Upper East Region.
Touching on the essence of the two-day event, he said he is happy the event did not only provide mentorship sessions, skills training and awards to deserving agri-women, but also promoted networking among women achievers in agribusiness, and propelled them to do more collectively.
He used the opportunity to commend Agrihouse Foundation and sponsors or WOFAGRIC and Gold in the soil awards, for a laudable initiative, adding that, “the theme for the event, Women in Agric – Surviving, Thriving and Making Waves beyond the Pandemic could not be more appropriate, in view of the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agricultural value chains, particularly for women farmers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the plight of women engaged in agriculture. Thus, there is therefore the need to support these women engaged in agriculture and given the right support, women would excel in any business venture including agriculture production which I believe will be a guaranteed means of breaking the vicious cycle that leads to rural poverty,” he noted.
He encouraged the women farmers to make the most of the event; to learn and network and celebrate their achievements, “Indeed, women are surviving, they are thriving and making waves within and beyond the pandemic,” he said. “I salute you our gallant women and congratulate our award winners in advance whiles encouraging the rest to stay put and work hard to be winners in the next awards,” he added.
About 3rd WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards
This year Madam Portia Asumda, from Zangeyire in the Upper East Region took home the ultimate Gold in the Soil Award. She has been farming five years and is into the cultivation of rice, and maize, and rears cow, small ruminant and guinea fowls.
She has been working for the past 10 years and has helped train about 200 women in agri-processing capacities. She mentors women and employs a number of them who depend on the income they make to support their families. In view of her hard work, NBSSI collaborates with her as a service provider, ensuring that her products meet international standards, that enables her to export her products.
The rest of the award winners in their various categories are as follows:
Passion for Farm— Portia Gban
She innovates— Gafaratu Fuseini
Climate Smart Women Project— Memuna Abdul Rahaman
Outstanding woman in extension services— Leuzumah Rashida
The super Woman Farmer— Alima Wahabu
Royal Agro— Ayiesheitu Mahamadu Asaki
Diamond in the rough— Saantuma Sala
Feed to Foods— Genevive Akugu
Change Champion Award— Asieme Elsie Azelikumah
Development Partner— Canada
Lady of the Export Region— Anita Sutha
Star Woman Agripreneur— Mavis Alahire Aboko
She operates— Joy okrah
Princess Carla— Hawawu Gbahara
Gold in the Soil— Portia Asumda
This year the Awards Scheme received 131 nominations from both Upper East and Upper West Region. Out of the number, 45 women were shortlisted and 14 awarded. A special Gold in the Soil award went to Canada as a development partner.
This year WOFAGRIC and Gold in the soil Award was in partnership with Canadian High Commission, ABSA Ghana and YARA, INTERPLAST, OCP AFRICA, PEG AFRICA, LUMINANT ELECTRICALS AND RDF GHANA.
Collaborating Institution included, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD) and the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association (NFFAWAG).
The GOLD In the Soil AWARDS, is an annual awards scheme, solely dedicated to contribute in strengthening and projecting a paradigm shift of celebrating women farmers, processors, marketers and women who are playing a role within the agricultural value chain, including women into Transportation, packaging, Technology, input dealers, etc. The Awards moves from Region to Region yearly to search for these extraordinary women who contribute significantly to putting food on our tables daily. Their story is shared and broadcasted through a documentary series produced by Agrihouse Foundation.
Impacts of WOFAGRIC and Gold in the soil Awards
Since inception three years (3) ago, WOFAGRIC and Gold in the soil awards has impacted the lives and businesses of women in the agri-business space. So far 25% of women participants who were not into Agribusiness as at the time they attended the event, have now ventured into agribusiness. Similarly, about 900 women who were groomed to take up leadership roles have had their capacity built up to push for growth and expansion at the grassroots.
In 2019, almost a quarter of the nominees for the Gold in the Soil Awards made entries into the National Best Farmers Award Scheme at district, regional and national levels with about 7 of them winning laurels at the district and regional levels whilst 2 of them picked up awards at the National awards.
The training offered on proper management and book keeping have proven impactful. A follow up evaluation carried out 3 months after each event reveals that, past participants have been able to access loan facilities to support their farms and businesses. Furthermore, information and guidance provided by the Netherlands embassy and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) equipped some of the women farmers on the standard procedures, best practices and how to go documentations to export their produce. This has helped about 13 women to start the process to go into exportation.