West Africa Regional Director of YARA, Mr. Danquah Addo-Yobo, has reiterated the need for agri-women to see farming as a business venture and continue working diligently at it.
He said the agricultural sector offers women many opportunities to grow as entrepreneurs, and therefore encouraged them to continue learning and supporting one another.
Mr. Addo-Yobo made these comments yesterday at a Familiarization and Courtesy Call organized by Agrihouse Foundation, to allow winners of the recent 3rd Gold in the Soil Awards, interact with sponsors of the event, and express their appreciation.
He said women in agriculture should always look out for market opportunities and ways they can expand their business, “your market is not only the area you see. Your market is bigger than your area. Your market is a global market,” he stressed.
He also used the opportunity to commend the women for engaging in risk-management, in the form of mix-crop farming, which he said is one of the best strategies farmers can adopt.
Mix farming, he noted, ensures that the farmer is always in business; because, if one crop farms, there are chances the others will do well and the farmer will not be found wanting at the end of the day. “It takes special skills and knowledge to do that,” he stressed and commended the women for applying such farming methods.
He used the opportunity to shine more light on Alima Wahabu and Aberiga Yesara, both physically challenged women farmers were nominated for the Gold in the soil Awards this year, under the ‘Super Woman Farmer Award’ category.
He praised them for their resilience and industriousness, and commended Agrihouse Foundation for creating a platform like ‘Gold in the Soil Awards’ that allows farmers like Alima Wahabu and Aberiga Yesara, to be recognized and celebrated.
They are residents of Adamkologa, in the zebilla constituency of the Upper East region.
For her part, the Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, noted that, this year, the Awards Scheme received 131 nominations from both Upper East and Upper West Region, “to allow more women from culturally diverse backgrounds an opportunity to participate in the awards scheme,” she noted.
During the assessments and breakdown of entries received, she said the Foundation realised that 50% of the entries were from women farmers, farming between 10-65 acres of maize, yam, groundnut, soya beans, vegetables, Bambara beans, millet and sorghum.
32% of the women were largely into Processing, Packaging and marketing of Shea, Neem, Moringa, Boabab, Dawada, groundnut, oils, etc. 15% were into distribution and marketing of Input (seeds, fertilizers, etc) and about 3% of these women were into Tractor and Equipment operating and hiring.
Furthermore, the majority of women farmers who submitted entries were between ages 25-65years, and have been operating their businesses within a period of 2 to 40years, “This for us is a positive signal. It is great to know we have very young women in the Upper East and West Regions, who are taking Agric seriously and contributing to enhancing nutrition and changing livelihoods,” Ms. Akosa said.
At the end of the assessments and breakdown, out of 131 nomination, 45 women were shortlisted and documented on video telling their stories as agri-women. The number was further shortlisted to 14 agri-women who received the Gold in the Soil Awards.
For their part, the Award Winners who were present at the courtesy call were given opportunities to express their gratitude to the sponsors of this year’s event, and highlight some challenges they were facing as women farmers, especially in these times. They all highlighted their need for support in the areas of fertilizer supply, mechanization and tractor services, and transportation services.
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.
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The rest of the award winners in their various categories are as follows:
The Passion for Farm Award, won by Portia Gban, from Upper West Region.
She Innovates Award won by Gafaratu Fuseini, from Upper East Region.
Climate Smart Women Project Award won by Memuna Abdul Rahaman, from Upper West Region.
Outstanding Woman in Extension Services Award won by Leuzumah Rashida, from Upper West Region.
Super Woman Farmer Award won by Alima Wahabu, from Upper East Region.
Royal Agro Award won by Ayiesheitu Mahamadu Asaki, from Upper East Region.
Diamond in the Rough Award won by Saantuma Sala, from Upper West Region.
Feed to Foods Award won by Genevive Akugu, from Upper East Region.
Change Champion Award won by Asieme Elsie Azelikumah, from Upper East Region.
Development Partner Award won by Canadian High Commission.
Lady of the Export Region Award won by Anita Sutha, from Upper West Region.
Star Woman Agripreneur Award won by Mavis Alahire Aboko, from Upper East region.
She operates Award won by Joy okrah, from Upper West Region.
Princess Carla Award won by Hawawu Gbahara, from Upper West Region.
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.