The third (3rd) edition of Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Training Forum (WOFAGRIC) And Gold in The Soil Awards, powered by Agrihouse Foundation, has received 131 nominations of deserving women farmers and agribusinesses.

The event is set to take place from the 23rd to the 24th of June 2021 at the Akayet Hotel, Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region, under the theme: “Women in Agric- Surviving, Thriving and Making Waves Beyond the Pandemic.”

The event, primarily designed to empower women in the agricultural sector, also seeks to increase their participation in agribusiness and recognize exceptional performance of trailblazers who push the boundaries along the value chain. It is further designed to bring together actors in the agric value chain such as farmers, aggregators, transporters, buyers, input dealers, suppliers, agro companies and many others in a serene environment where knowledge, ideas and relevant skills will be shared to the benefit of the farmers and others in the agric value chain especially women.

Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, has noted that the Foundation is excited with the balanced women Farmers and Agribusiness value chain representation, with the entries received so far, from women from the Upper East and West respectively.

“50% of the entries received, are from women farmers, farming between 10-65 acres of maize, yam, groundnut, soya beans, vegetables, Bambara beans, millet and sorghum. 32% of the women are largely into Processing, Packaging and marketing of Shea, Neem, Moringa, Boabab, Dawada, groundnut, oils, etc. 15% are into distribution and marketing of Input (seeds, fertilizers, etc) and about 3% of these women are into Tractor and Equipment operating and hiring,” she highlighted.

The Foundation has also noted that majority of the women farmers who submitted entries are between ages 25-65years, “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,” she revealed, adding that all the entries received are from women, who have been operating their businesses within a period of 2 to 40years.

Highlighting on the theme for this year’s event, “Surviving, Thriving and Making Waves beyond the Pandemic,” Ms. Akosa said, 2021 WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards would explore ways to enhance women’s resilience and recovery from the effects of the pandemic. The event will enable women in agribusiness develop, improve and sustain new agricultural practices, as well as develop their business within this pandemic era and beyond.

For her part, the Deputy Director – Development, of the Canadian Embassy, Ms. Stephanie Brunet, said, “The theme for this year’s event could not be more appropriate in view of the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agricultural value chains, particularly for women farmers.

She said since 2017, Canada has been providing support to the Government of Ghana to improve its agriculture sector through an initiative called Modernizing Agriculture in Ghana (MAG). Through MAG, Canada has made available 125 million Canadian dollars of assistance directly to the Government of Ghana to help modernize the sector.

“That is why Canada is also proud to have supported the Women in Food and Agriculture Leadership Training and the Gold in the Soil Award in 2019 and 2020, and we look forward to working together on this year’s event. We strongly believe that women are critical to the sustainability of Ghana’s agriculture and that successful women farmers deserved to be recognized for their achievement and contributions to the nation.”  She ended.

The core objectives of the initiative will among other things will seek to attract and boost the interest of women in agribusiness and motivate them to display their products and services while recognising their efforts in agribusiness.

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.

The WOFAGRIC and Gold in soil awards have chalked many successes over the years. The maiden edition held in the Volta region and the second edition hosted in the Ashanti region have proved worthwhile. This year’s edition promises to be much more educative, fun-filled and rewarding.

The two (2)-day event will unfold under two (2) main segments thus:

  1. Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Training and Capacity Building Session:

This full day session will deploy different learning approaches including opinion sharing, focused group discussions, dialogues, panel discussions,  mentoring and demonstrations, to Train and build capacity of women Farmers and Agribusinesses.

Resource persons from various institutions, will be training our women on various topics, right from Production, Management and Marketing

The full day session, aims at providing a platform to exchange best practices and share valuable lessons learnt in handling and scaling up the Women in Agribusiness sector.

  1. The Gold in the Soil Awards:

Day Two (2) of the event, is the 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 and broadcasted on various platforms, to inspire and motivate other women who want to venture into Agribusiness. The 131 entries received, has been shortlisted to 45.

The Farms and Businesses of these women are currently being visited in the Upper East and Upper West Regions, to document and share their extraordinary farming and business journey.

Out of the 45 women shortlisted, 15 women will be recognized and awarded, in the 15 categories, they sent entries to, namely; She-Innovates Award, Climate-Smart Women Project Award, The Change Champion Award, Lady of The Region Export Award, Development Partner Award, Princess Carla Award, She-Operates Award, Outstanding Woman in Extension Services Award, The Super Woman Farmer Award, Star Woman Agripreneur Award (Woman Agripreneur Award), Royal Agro Award, Diamond in the Rough Award, Feed to Food Awards – (Poultry, Livestock & Fisheries) and the ultimate, Gold in the Soil Award.

“We are poised to reward excellence by recognising the efforts of our incredible agriwomen, most of whom have unfortunately remained unsung heroes despite their mammoth contribution to the Agric discipline. WOFAGRIC and the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS, will continuously identify such women, shed light on their endeavours and reward their industry and resilience,” Ms. Akosa emphasized.

Over the years, WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards has received support from the Canadian Embassy, Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD), ABSA, INTERPLAST, OCP AFRICA, PEG AFRICA, National Farmers and Fishermen Winners Association of Ghana (NFFAWAG), and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA).