Deputy Director, Program Planning, at the Canadian High Commission, Corey Huntington, has noted that the 131 entries Agrihouse Foundation received this year for the ‘Gold in the Soil Awards’ should be a testimony to policy makers, private and public actors along the agricultural value chains that women are a vital component to the transformation of every society.
She said this indicator should inform policies and programs that will facilitate women’s empowerment are critical to the sustainable development of the nation.
Ms. Corey Huntington made these comments at the recent 3rd Women in Food and Agriculture Leadership Training Forum (WOFAGRIC) and Gold in the Soil Awards, organized by Agrihouse Foundation in Bolgatnga, in the Upper East region.
She said Canada continues to support WOFAGRIC because the vision of the event strongly resonates with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, which aims to put women and girl’s front and centre of development.
“We strongly believe that women are critical to the sustainability of Ghana’s agriculture and that successful women farmers deserved to be recognized and celebrated for their achievements and contributions to the nation,” she stressed.
She therefore described WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil as, “the right platform to highlight the successes of women farmers and demonstrate that, given equal opportunities, women farmers can contribute significantly to Ghana’s development agenda,” she underscored.
Touching on the theme of this years two-day event, the Deputy Director said “Surviving, Thriving and Making Waves beyond the Pandemic” is very appropriate given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agricultural value chains, particularly for women farmers.
“While women farmers have recorded gains over the past years, for which reason we are here to recognise and celebrate these achievements, it is important that measures be taken to build their resilience against the impacts of shocks and to prevent them from regressing” she highlighted.
She therefore commended Agrihouse Foundation for providing an annul capacity building and networking opportunity through WOFAGRIC, that celebrates all agri-women and helps to build their resilience; this year, focused on agri-women in the Upper East and Upper West regions.
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.