A recent news report by the Ghana News Agency, GNA captured a not so rare story of the precarious conditions under which most women work in the agric sector.
According to the opening paragraph of the story, “Fear griped the Napila Community in the Bimbila District of the Northern Region when the news of a couple who went to the farm and kept their sleeping baby under a neem tree whilst they worked could not find the child upon their return. It has been three months since the incidence and the hope of the couple ever finding the baby is diminishing by the day. Leaving a child in the shade under a tree to enable a mother work on a farm is a common practice in that community but that has ceased after the incident.”
This storyline is just one of many similar challenges that women, especially those in agriculture, go through in the rural areas. Despite the plethora of challenges however women have continually shone bright in the local agric sector.
Indeed, women in Ghana, especially those in agriculture, are worth mentioning and celebrating. Women are the key actors in Ghana’s agriculture, making up of over half the agricultural labour force and producing 70 per cent of the country’s food stock, according to a SEND-Ghana study.
It is not uncommon to see women with their babies strapped at their backs painstakingly tending their farms, applying urea and other fertilizers to enhance the growth of crops. A whopping 95 per cent are involved in agro-processing and 85 per cent in food distribution and their contribution to agriculture varies even more widely depending on the specific crop under cultivation, type of involvement and activity.
Besides agriculture-related activities, smallholder women farmers are heavily engaged in domestic and reproductive tasks, which are crucial to the maintenance of households and communities. These tasks are regarded as an extension of household duties and hence, remain hidden economically.
Due to the specific role of smallholder women farmers in food production, many of them are repositories of knowledge on cultivation, processing, and preservation of nutritious and locally adapted crop varieties.
Knowledge, innovations and technology are advancing; markets are changing very fast, especially for the higher value products; and environmental degradation and climate change require improved sustainable natural resource management to ensure access to land for enhanced food security, particularly for women smallholder farmers.
It is this enduring narrative that has inspired the need to reverse the “unsung hero” status of women in agric by Agrihouse Foundation and her supporting partners- who are set to rollout the maiden edition of the WOMEN IN FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL LEADERSHIP FORUM & EXPO (WOFAGRIC 2019) and the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS set to take place from Wednesday, June 12th -Thursday, June 13th, 2019 at the Chances Hotel, Volta Region.
According to the organizers, the conceptual undertone for the project will focus on equipping agric-industry women with the capacity to improve production output. It will also access the impact women have, in shaping and directing the conversation on production, processing and marketing, policies, how farm related components of rural economy can contribute to income generation and employment and how women can rightfully take their place and tap in the opportunities within the agric sector.
While emphasis on women in agriculture has largely focused on the Northern Region in recent years, the organizers consider other regions including the Volta Region an ‘unsung hero’ that has rather unjustifiably endured underwhelming attention despite the impact of their industrious women in the agricultural value chain and are confident that WOFAGRIC and the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS will pay a key role in projecting women in agriculture in each and every region it gets to and become a sustainable platform for women in agriculture to have a share of voice, share ideas, train and empower each other, discuss issues pertinent to women in the industry, promote by showcasing through exhibitions, the works, products and services of women in Agric. The event will focus on Smallholder Women, beginner agribusinesses and women achievers in Agriculture, whiles building capacity, alongside the 2day event.
ACTIVITIES FOR THE 2-DAY EVENT
Activities lined up to ensure that participants benefit optimally from the maiden edition of the initiative include:
- Leadership Training
- Mentorship & Guidance Dialogue
- Panel Discussion on Key Issues affecting women in Agribusiness
- Focused Training programmes for women seeking to venture into agriculture
- Empowerment Talk
- Documentary and Awards (Gold in the Soil Awards)
Key topics that will be discussed include:
- How to start and manage agricultural production and agribusiness
- The essence of Marketing and Branding in Agribusiness
- How can women use agricultural production and agribusiness to bring solutions to Ghana’s economic, social and environmental challenges?
- Climate smart agricultural approach and practices
- Farming for Export, Promotion and Development
WOFAGRIC will unfold under three (3) main segments thus:
- WOFAGRIC Exhibitions of Agriculture production and value added products, improved technologies and everything Agriculture.
The exhibition will bring together all the relevant women actors within the sector with the potential to stimulate increased staple crop productivity among small holder farmers including women. It will focus on Innovation bringing together buyers and sellers of the latest technology of products and services to make your business successful.
- The WOFAGRIC Mentorship Dialogue, workshops and conference
This will be organized alongside the two-day exhibition to help build capacity of women farmers, entrepreneurs and women in agriculture.
It also aims at providing a platform to exchange best practices and share
valuable lessons learnt in handling and overcoming challenges in agribusiness.
It also seeks to facilitate dialogue between various actors in the Agribusiness space among women. It will present the platform to catalyze actions and refine their interventions in order to better respond to the needs; Advocate for inclusive value chains and agricultural market systems to support women in agribusiness.
- The WOFAGRIC Awards (Gold in the Soil Awards)
Gold in the Soil Awards: The awards sessions aim at recognizing and rewarding outstanding women in Agriculture. A documentary on activities and impact of these women will be produced to be to be aired on TV and social media platforms to showcase the works of these women and an award ceremony, organized to celebrate them
The Awards will have fourteen (14) categories:
- Passion for the Farm Awards: The award recognizes those who have achieved excellence in their field or demonstrated an extraordinary contribution to the agribusiness industry. This category targets awarding women who are farming (production level) in their own right or in a partnership. These women should have made essential contribution(s) to the success and profitability of the farm dovetailing into creation of jobs and improving the economy of the country.
- She-innovates Award: This category seeks to look out for a woman who looked at the community in relation to the farm, identified challenges and saw immense opportunity through diversification and eventually makes a success story out of that business idea by adding value through creating, innovation or invention.
- Climate-Smart Women Project Award: This award will provide recognition for the efforts of a group of women or a woman-led organization, implementing an outstanding project in agriculture by adopting a climate smart approach and practices that supports in the transformation, development and is sustainably increasing agricultural productivity in the community. This project must be seen to be solving a real challenge and create tangible results.
- Woman in Extension Services Award: This award will also provide recognition to women, either in the public or private sector, contributing effortlessly through training, capacity building, advocacy, to encourage the adaptation of best practices by farmers, thereby contributing significantly to the empowerment and socio-economic development of the society and the country as a whole
- The Super Woman Award: This special category goes to a physically challenged woman, whose role, works and passion for agriculture, is contributing largely to community development, food security, poverty alleviation, job creation and economic growth in the Agric sector.
- Star in Ag Award (Woman Agripreneur Award): This special recognition goes out to a young woman, already with great achievements in the agribusiness industry and inspiring her community, the country and putting the country on the International map.
- Royal Agro: Through this award, we identify a traditional leader (Queen mother), who is into agriculture herself and her personal commitment to see women in agriculture in her community develop and thrive, is helping them in all ways possible through access to land, training, social impact programs and advocacy.
- Diamond in the Rough Award: This award will unearth the works, efforts, contribution and potentials of a promising woman, leading the agro space in her own way, though not seen or recognized, but has the capabilities to be outstanding and be a shining agriculture / agribusiness star.
- Feed to Food Livestock, Poultry & Fisheries Awards: This is to a woman with great determination and integrity who has continuously demonstrated a positive role in livestock, poultry or fisheries and has an unwavering commitment to succeed in this sector. This person should have made a series of significant selfless contributions with a long-lasting benefit to the Livestock and Fisheries sector.
- The Change Champion Award: This category goes to the professional woman, whose ongoing effort, passion for her job, contribution and dedication to her work in the agro space, is contributing significantly to corporate internal change, whiles making a national impact.
- Lady of The Region Export Award: This category recognizes and rewards the region’s most successful and innovative woman exporter, regardless of the size of the business or the export sales
- Development Partner Award: This award recognizes the efforts of an International and local organization, whose works centers on agriculture and in particular, towards the development of women in the community, encouraging to adopt best practices, whiles adding value.
- Princess Carla Award: This award recognizes the efforts of a dedicated woman, who employs all the standards and best practices in her agro business and in her on way, engages, inspire and train other women in her community to take agriculture as a business and adopt best practices to enhance productivity and increase yield
- Gold in the Soil Award: This is the ultimate award of WOFAGRIC which seeks to appreciate the outstanding achievements of a woman producing along the entire agricultural value chain (from production through to processing, branding and marketing). Also measuring and recognizing the impact of her establishment to her community.
The event is expected to move to a different region every year, so all women can embrace and leverage on the platform. It is being organized in collaboration with Agrihouse Foundation, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Women in Food and Agriculture Development (WIAD), National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association and the Volta Regional Coordinating Council.
The Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Forum & Expo (WOFAGRIC 2019) and the Gold in the Soil Awards is Sponsored by Agricultural Development Bank, Yara Ghana Limited and Interplast
Media partners includes The Daily Statesman, AgricinGhana, Goldstreet Business and Ghanaweb.