“I am proud of this event because it explicitly recognizes the centrality of women to the sustainability of agriculture and communities.

It is well known that in Ghana, about 80% of agricultural production comes from small-scale farmers, who are mostly rural women. Women comprise the largest percentage of the workforce in the agricultural sector and double as the backbone of family, community agricultural production and food security.

The theme: Transforming and Sustaining Women in Agriculture: The Role of Public, Private and Development Partners, mirrors the approach of government to governance- Public, Private Partnership is a proven route that guarantees accelerated and inclusive development.” These are the endorsing words of the Minister of Food and Agriculture Hon. Afriyie Osei Akoto delivered at the second edition of the Women in Food and Agric Leadership Training Forum & Expo (WOFAGRIC 2020) held inKumasi from Thursday 6th to Friday 7th August, 2020.

Event Specifics

Since its inception last year, WOFAGRIC and GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS has fueled a renewed sense of advocacy, recognition and capacity improvement for women who operate within the agriculture value chain.

The annual event is Agrihouse’s  Foundation’s expert opinion sharing, mentoring, networking and learning platform for women in agriculture, agripreneurs, key stakeholders, development partners, researchers, farmer groups, government agencies, businesses, civil society, investment and professional advisors and corporate leaders.

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.

Agrihouse Foundation, organizers of the initiative designed the two-day event this to reflect advocacy, knowledge transmission and recognition for women in the agric value chain.

A panel presentation on: Post Covid 19 and Beyond: “Assessing and understanding the challenges and opportunities for women in Agriculture” got the event underway in the Ashanti Regional Capital, Kumasi while training sessions bothering on finance also addressed: “Identity – Access and Appraisal for obtaining credit or loan- Value Chain Optimizations”

“How can women build long-term resilience in future crisis through sustainable mechanization and Technology?”, “Giving women farmers support to enhance their productivity and market the food they produce, through e-commerce channels”, “Effective ways for women in agriculture to increase their ability to produce food for their communities during Covid- 19 and beyond”, “How do we ensure that the primary drivers of the sector – the smallholder women farmers – are included and empowered, and their economic outcomes enhanced?” were some of the insightful  topics lined up for the event this year.

The highlight of the event was an award presentation dubbed: Gold in the Soil Awards, where various deserving women farmers were recognized for their astounding contributions to the growth of agriculture in their community and the country at large.

The Gold in The Soil Award, the event’s award component designed to reward and recognize excellence  was spread across fifteen (15) categories which  included; Passion for Farm Award, She Innovates Award, Super Woman Award, Women in Extension Services, Star woman Agripreneur Awards, Diamond in the Rough Awards, Feed to Food Award, She Operates Award, Change Champion Award, Royal Agro Award (Queen mothers), Lady of the Region Export Award, Climate Smart Women Project awards, “Princess Carla” Award, Development Partner Award and the most coveted, Gold in the Soil Award.

Activities for the two-day event included Gold in the Soil Award Viewing, a session dubbed: At the Table – Agri Power Women, an ‘Aspire to Be’ Mentorship Session, Training & Presentation on: Business opportunities for Women in Agribusiness, Competence Based / Soft Skills and Exhibitions.

Captivating sessions dubbed: Gathering of the Royals Dialogue: Lead & Impact stories, Fire in My Heart; Grace in My Soul; Wave – Maker Talk, Gold in the Soil Documentary & Awards and Exhibitions completed the program for the event.

Award nominees were selected by a jury who after watching the Gold In the Soil Documentary selected deserving winners for each category.

Winners included: Passion for farm award- olivia Agyeiwaa (Plantain, pepper, yam, Maize, onions)

She innovates- Cecilia Anaba (Rice Cultivation and rice processing)

Outstanding Women in Extension – Francisca Asare Bediako (WIAD Director, Maize, cowpea, beans)

The Super woman Farmer Award- Yaa Kessewaa (Cocoa, plantain, cocoyam, cassava)

Diamond in the rough award- Ramatu Amadu (pepper,Maize,Okro)

Royal Agro Award- Nana Akua Nima Theresa (Cocoa,plantain)

Feed to foods Award – Akosua Tiwaah (Poultry farmer)

Princess Carla Award- Rebbecca Aboagye (Rice, Cocoa, plantain, Maize, yam, cassava)

The change Champion Award – Md. Portia Asumda (Shea butter, Num oil, dawadawa and pabol rice)

Star Woman Agripreneur Award- Nana Pomaa Antepim (Pig and rabbit rearing, Maize and plantain farming)

She operates- Joy Okrah (Soya bean, Maize, sorghum, sisamen and Fonio)

Climate Smart Women Project Award – Edith Akosa Wheatland (Poultry Farmer)

Development Partner Award- Canadian High Commission

Gold in the Soil Award- Cecilia Akoka (Maize, Pepper, plantain, tomatoes, cassava, yam, groundnut, Rice)

Award recipients were drawn from all 43 districts where 14 winners were selected by a jury after watching the documentary of the 45 shortlisted nominees in the Ashanti Region.

Cecilia Akoka (Maize, Pepper, plantain, tomatoes, cassava, yam, groundnut, and Rice farmer) would eventually emerge the overall winner by clinching the coveted Gold in The Soil Award.

The ultimate Gold in the Soil Award winner received a box tricycle, a 1000gh fuel coupon from Goil, a plague, a citation, 15 bags of fertilizer from Rejuvenate and Yara, and a package from Interplast.

The winner of the Super Woman Farmer award also took home a planter from RST, a plague, a citation, 15 bags of fertilizer and a package from Interplast.

The winner for the Diamond in the Rough award also received a planter from RST, a plague, a citation, 15 bags of fertilizer and a package from Interplast.

The rest of the 11 winners all took home a plague, a citation and 15 bags of fertilizer each. The other shortlisted nominees who didn’t win any of the categories all took home 10 bags of fertilizers each.

The Minister of State in Charge of Food and Agriculture and the Agrihouse Team visited the farm of Cecilia Akoka, the overall winner of the coveted Gold in The Soil Award to asses her enterprise.

Stakeholder Input

Backed by the partnership support of Absa Ghana, Yara and the Canadian Embassy, the event equally focused on equipping agric-industry women with the capacity to improve production output while also assessing the impact women have in areas such as production, processing and marketing, policies, how farm related components of rural economy can contribute to income generation and employment and how women can annex the opportunities within the agric sector.

Delivering her rousing opening remarks to open the event, Chief Executive Officer for Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa said:

“Last year 2019, we began an ambitious, yet needful journey to create a platform that will unearth the huge potential inherent in our women and empower them to do exploit in their chosen vocation of agriculture.

Like every new journey we had considerable challenges which we converted into stepping stones and today, we are more than victorious!

The dream we envisaged in our modest office facility back in Accra came to practical fruition with the maiden edition of WOFAGRIC AND GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS in the Volta region, last year.

Despite being the maiden edition, the hard work invested by our team and partners helped us punch beyond our weight-we surpassed our own expectation and those of observers within the industry.

Having laid a marker in the first edition held in the Volta region, we planned for an even more accomplished performance this year. But as fate will have it, the Covid -19 pandemic struck -giving our plans a big jolt.

We were naturally unhappy that the pandemic was threating to curtail any chance of having this event this year. But at Agri-house we have women of steel-women who reflect the can do Ghanaian spirit that we are here to celebrate our women for today.”

She continued: “We rallied ourselves, engaged our partners and on the back of our performance in the maiden edition, our partners were gracious enough to open their doors to us –walking with us every step of the way to this point.

The role of women in agriculture is well documented. What is conspicuously missing however is equitable opportunities and support mechanisms to help them thrive like their male counterparts.

We recognize this lapse and so we have designed WOFAGRIC and GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS as a two pronged approach- effective enough to first empower our women and also recognize their immense role in different facets of the agricultural value chain.” She concluded.

While emphasis on women in agriculture has largely focused on the Northern Region in recent years, the organizers have introduced a conscious rotation plan to have the event rolled out one- region- at- a -time. Having held the first edition in the Volta Region, this edition was an opportunity for women in the Ashanti Region to also experience the event. The next edition slated for 2021 will be held in the Upper East Region, According to the organizers.

The initiative received sponsorship support from, The Embassy of Canada, Absa and Yara Ghana.

Absa Bank , one of the  a sponsor and training facilitator for the event expressed support for the event   thus: “Absa Bank is pleased to be here today and most importantly, to be associated with the Woman in Food and Agriculture (WOFAGRIC) and Gold in the Soil Awards, aimed at bringing together influential women in agriculture to network.

We are excited that women who contribution greatly to the growth of agriculture in Ghana are being recognized. This programme provides a platform to highlight the achievements of women in agriculture and to build the capacity of the actors to improve their businesses significantly.

Absa has been in the country 100 years during which it has supported various industries within the economy. One of the areas that the bank focused on is agriculture by supporting agricultural projects.

Agribusiness is one of the sectors Absa Bank considers key to the growth of the bank in these times. Humans will always eat; both during and after Covid-19, food will continue to remain essential for our survival and economic growth. Our continent and the entire world will have to be fed. This means our partners in agribusiness will be counting on Absa to connect their dreams to financial resources and services in order to bring their possibility to life. We recognize that for women to lead in the development of agricultural value chains, it is important for them to understand the opportunities within the sector.

Absa’s ambition of making Africa proud has been reignited by the COVID pandemic and we can’t afford to let our stakeholders, especially business partners and shareholders down. Over the years, we have supported various programmes and projects in the agricultural value chain, and we keep exploring new opportunities to enable us do more.”

“The past four months has seen the Covid-19 pandemic disrupt business activities. Due to the closure of boarders, imports restrictions and exports have slowed down, thus creating challenges we did not anticipate. Despite these, there has been some bright spots. Local industries have risen to the occasion to venture into new areas thus growing their businesses. The request for local raw materials have increased creating business for local enterprises.

In 2018, Ghana imported approximately USD 14.9 Billion of various items. Commodities such as rice, sugar, wheat and poultry rice contributed over $1billion. The general slowdown in international trade creates opportunity for us to finance the local production of various commodities and we hope that you ready to go along with us.

Absa Bank is currently focusing on government priority Programs like the Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs and Planting for Export and Rural Development to impact the economy. The Bank is particularly interested because these projects have direct impacts on smallholder farmers including women and young people.

It our hope that this year’s WOFAGRIC will indeed highlight the successes of women in Agriculture and encourage more women to venture into new opportunities in the value chains to increase their incomes. For you women who are already making strides in the various agricultural enterprises, we encourage you to continue pressing on to greater heights. We challenge you to compete with your male counterparts and we know you will shine.” The upbeat message featured in the events brochure said in part.

William Nettey, Head of Agribusiness, Absa Bank took participants through a session dubbed:” Financing Your Agribusiness” at the event.

In the riveting session, Nettey delivered simple yet relevant tips on how to secure finance for agribusiness enterprises to improve capacity.

A message delivered by H.E. Sara Nicholls on behalf of the Canadian Embassy read: “Today is a day to celebrate the contribution of women to agriculture in Ghana. Canada is proud to be associated with WOFAGRIC 2020 and the Gold in the Soil Awards, an event which showcases the successes of women for women and which seeks to inspire young women with dreams on how they too can achieve their goals. Canada and Ghana have been working together to advance gender equality for some time, and even more so since Canada launched its Feminist International Assistance Policy in 2017.

In Ghana, Canada aims to improve women’s equal access and control over resources, tools and opportunities, to ensure that women are empowered to improve their own living conditions, and those of their families and communities.

One way by which Canada is doing this is through its collaboration with the

Government of Ghana and other partners to modernize agriculture for better

incomes, food security and nutrition. Our objective is to increase access for women and youth to agricultural extension services. We want to reduce inequalities in accessing these services to help every farmer, man or woman, to become successful, prosperous farmers and people.”

“Canada seeks opportunities to advance gender equality and women empowerment. Events such as WOFAGRIC contribute towards achieving this goal.

We congratulate Agri-House on organizing this event, despite the challenges, and wish everyone a successful forum. May WOFAGRIC 2020 provide you with the energy, passion and inspiration that you need to in turn inspire others.

Today is a day to celebrate the contribution of women to agriculture in Ghana.

Canada is proud to be associated with WOFAGRIC 2020 and the Gold in the Soil

Awards, an event which showcases the successes of women for women and which seeks to inspire young women with dreams on how they too can achieve their goals.

Canada and Ghana have been working together to advance gender equality for

some time, and even more so since Canada launched its Feminist International

Assistance Policy in 2017. In Ghana, Canada aims to improve women’s equal access and control over resources, tools and opportunities, to ensure that women are empowered to improve their own living conditions, and those of their families and communities.

One way by which Canada is doing this is through its collaboration with the

Government of Ghana and other partners to modernize agriculture for better

incomes, food security and nutrition. Our objective is to increase access for women and youth to agricultural extension services. We want to reduce inequalities in accessing these services to help every farmer, man or woman, to become successful, prosperous farmers and people.

Canada seeks opportunities to advance gender equality and women

empowerment. Events such as WOFAGRIC contribute towards achieving this goal.” The statement read.

The partnership-support of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Women in Agric Development (WIAD), and the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association of Ghana (NFFAWAG) was equally instrumental to the event which held despite the fallout of Covid-19-albiet amidst strict adherence to prescribed safety protocols.

“We in Yara recognize the role women play in various areas in the agricultural value chain. We also recognize that women to a large extent continue to bear the responsibility for the welfare of families, particularly the provision of health, education, food and nutrition to children and the significant impact they can make when given the necessary support and accessibility to the right
resources.
It is in this vein that Yara Ghana places premium on sharing knowledge with women farmer groups on effective agronomic practices as well as providing other support such as inputs to some identified women groups such as the Development Action Association in Southern Ghana and the St Cecelia  Cooperative in the Savannah region.

We also strive to support initiatives that seeks to drive the interest of women in agriculture and to improve their capacities. This is why we were supportive of the maiden edition of WOFAGRIC last year and didn’t hesitate to support this year’s edition as well.

We believe if our efforts as a private sector player as well as that of the government and development partners are well coordinated and synergized, it will go a long way to transform and sustain women in agriculture in Ghana.


Yara Ghana is very proud to support this noble objective of the WOFAGRIC /Gold in The Soil Awards in recognizing our women who play significant roles in the agricultural value chain. We hope this platform will encourage our women
and draw the necessary attention to drive policy and attract support from all stakeholders to secure this vision.” The message read in part.

Conclusion

The organizers of the event, Agrihouse Foundation believes that a number of other changes will strengthen women’s contributions to agricultural production and sustainability. These the foundation believes should include  support for investment in rural areas in order to improve women’s living and working conditions; giving priority to technological development policies targeting rural and farm women’s needs and recognizing their knowledge, skills and experience in the production of food and the conservation of biodiversity; and assessing the negative effects and risks of farming practices and technology, including pesticides on women’s health, and taking measures to reduce use and exposure.