This year’s edition of the women centered agric forum and award scheme WOFAGRIC and THE GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS is set to enjoy the support of Canadian Embassy in Ghana and ABSA Ghana ltd and Yara Ghana.

Having played a key role in the last edition of the event in 2019, Canada has again made a commitment to propel the initiative even further as a way of consolidating the Canadian government’s already impressive contribution to the agriculture sector.

Proclaiming the commitment of Canada to the cause of women in the agricultural value chain at the launch of the event slated for May 20-21, 2020 in the Ashanti Region, First Secretary at the Canadian High Commission, Marie-Claude Harvey revealed: “the Canadian government is pushing millions of Dollars in investment to expand and improve the competitiveness of women farmers as well as prepare them for the European market.”

In the same strain, Director of Business Banking, Absa Ghana, Grace Anim-Yeboah, explained new moves by her outfit to provide more funding to female farmers and entrepreneurs.

“When you look at our statistics, you will find that in our Agribusiness value chain, women contribute about 70 per cent to the sector. Sadly, the financial resources given to these women have been woefully inadequate. That’s why as a bank we have chosen to associate with this laudable initiative.”

Speaking at the launch of the event set to hold under the theme: “Transforming and Sustaining women in agriculture; the role of public, private and development partners”. Former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings also highlighted the economic benefits of women empowerment to agriculture development.

“Women are highly capable of contributing massively to the agriculture sector. From my years as the first lady, I have seen the strength and courage of these women and how much of an impact they keep having on the agriculture sector. We have no excuse not giving them the needed support to thrive,” she stated.

As part of the launch, a panel discussion bothering  on the theme of the event saw Madam Gifty Rodor, president of Women in poultry, Mama Ayipe III, Queen mother and rice farmer in the Volta region, Madam Connie Nyador , Gold in the soil 2019 winner and best yam/cassava farmer, Madam Mabel Kudzo, 2017 2nd National best farmer, Madam Dorothy Effa, policy and advocacy officer of AGRA and Salma Liman, principal technical officer of COCOBOD shared diverse experiences on  their success stories and challenges as players in the local agric industry.

The Women in Food and Agriculture (WOFAGRIC) and the Gold in the Soil Awards is aimed at transforming and sustaining women the livelihoods of women who have taken the path of agriculture.

Designed to be held on a rotational basis amongst the regions of the country each year, WOFAGRIC will also assess the impact women have, in shaping and directing the conversation on production, processing and marketing, policies, how farm-related components of the rural economy can contribute to income generation and employment and how women can rightfully take their place and tap in the opportunities within the agricultural sector.

The event also serves as a leadership building, soft skills and competence-based training platform that recognizes, encourages and empowers small holder women farmers and women agripreneurs through motivational, training and mentoring sessions.

The award GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS recognizes pioneers and trailblazers, the women who push the boundaries along the value chain. From time immemorial, men have been considered the forefront actors in agriculture. Women who have dared to challenge this stereotype have been looked at in a not-so-encouraging light. Though there has been a lot of work to increase visibility of women achievers in all industries, women still in need and want to see more women role models. 

The Gold In The Soil awards is a women-focused awards ceremony that brings to the lime-light women working, thriving and excelling in the field of agriculture.

Women recognized for Awards are either nominated or selected. This year, a new Award category, “She Operates Award”, has been added to the categories, making it a total of fifteen (15) categories in all. The category details and description can be found on www.Agrihousefoundation.com 

WOFAGRIC and THE GOLD IN TH ESOIL AWARDS is a timely initiative that has made mammoth impact since the inaugural edition last year.

“Two years ago, this event started as an event organized as a compelling response to the demand to do something to encourage and thank our women who have through the years unflinchingly remained the backbone of our agriculture from season to season and from year to year. As agriculture promoters and facilitators, we in Agrihouse have travelled far and wide and have interacted with the real farmers who have kept Ghana supplied with food. We have seen and met women who have worked their backs bare tilling the earth, shoulder to shoulder with men in order to fend for their families and to raise children who have today become responsible men and women in our society serving Ghana in both the public and the private sectors in varying capacities. “Executive Director of Agrihouse said of the event and its objective in vim- laden address delivered at the launch headlined by dignitaries within the agric industry and prominent firms like Yara Ghana Interplast and Sidalco ltd.

She praised the commitment of the Canadian Embassy in Ghana and ABSA Ghana ltd and called for more support for the women who have been perpetually under the bushel of “unsung heroiship”

“This is why we are grateful to our sponsors from the private sector and the development partners who have unrelentingly been supporting us. At the same time, also, we wish to use this platform to reach out to the entire private sector to see the immense value in giving back to the society through their support for such an event that promotes the reward of hard work and upliftment.”

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 whist 2 of them picked up awards at the National awards.

Women received training on proper management and book keeping. A follow up evaluation carried out 3 months after the event revealed as a result of this, some of these women have now been able to access loan facilities to support their farms and businesses.

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 secure documentations to export their produce. This has helped about 13 women to start the process to go into exportation.

As a key development partner, Canada has taken a keen interest in local agric and has consequently been involved in several efforts geared towards helping Ghana reach her potential.  

Canada and Ghana have maintained a strong partnership in agric research through a strong partnership in agricultural research through collaboration between Canadian and Ghanaian Universities, capacity development of national research institutions and other Canadian funded development projects.

Canadian support has helped Ghana develop an agricultural research system that is improving food security and economic growth throughout the country.

Today, the input of the Canadian embassy has contributed extensively to fueling increased women participation in Ghanaian agriculture.

As part of its contribution towards this year’s event, the Canadian embassy has made a commitment to provide funding and technical support.

The motivation for Canada’s affiliation to the annual event is not far-fetched; the country launched a Feminist International Assistance Policy in July 2017. The policy, which now guides her development efforts across the globe recognizes that support gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is the best way to build a more peaceful, more inclusive and more prosperous world, and a key strategy for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Canada has continues to work with   Ghana to advance gender equality for some time, collaborating with organizations to support programs that are helping to address social and economic challenges, including through the agriculture sector to foster economic growth while lifting small farmer holders out of poverty.

In 2018, Canada supported the preparation of Regional Gender Action Plans to guide the efforts of the decentralized departments of agriculture. These documents accessed what were the main gender equality issues in each region and provided step-by-step, user friendly ideas to guide staff on how to better support women, farmers, herders and agr-entrepreneurs in their communities to develop vibrant economic activities and business. 

WOFAGRIC comes at a time when the world, a global village, is pushing for gender equality and women empowerment in all areas. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), stated that: ‘if women worldwide had the same access to productive resources as men, they could boost agricultural production and help lift 100 to 150 million people out of hunger.’ The event would encourage women and offer them an array of opportunities to move from subsistence farming to commercial farming. The ministry, in accordance with the President’s commitment to empowering women, is dedicated to offering women equal opportunities and access to resources to grow and maintain their agribusiness, as this would not only alleviate poverty, but would also create jobs and reduce the hunger rate remarkably.