The West African Regional Director of YARA, Mr. Danquah Addo-Yobo, has underscored the resilience and incredible achievements of the seventeen (17) women farmers with disabilities who have been nominated for ‘Gold in the Soil Awards,’ this year.

He said while their presence in the awards scheme and at the Women in Food and Agriculture Leadership Training Forum (WOFAGRIC) will serve as encouragement for more women with physical challenges, their contributions to the country’s agricultural sector is sending a strong message about their potentials.

In line with this, he said YARA is particularly looking forward to empowering the three hundred (300) women farmers who will be at this year’s event, with new business practices and skills, to help them recover, grow and standout.

As a leader in the fertilizer production and distribution space, and an organization committed to knowledge sharing, he said YARA would be playing key roles in the practical training and mentoring sessions, as it does annually with the women.

“The platforms continues to provide our experts and agronomists opportunities to impact the women with knowledge on best farming and agronomic practices. We are looking forward to the mentorship sessions, to give the women best recommendations on fertilizers for the right crops, how to use them to ensure great yield and profitability,” he said.

WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards, he noted, provides a unique and strategic platform for stakeholders in the value chain to present successful modules, agribusiness ideas and practices to corporate and development partners, as well as individuals, who continue to have doubts about the profitability of agriculture.

“We are looking forward to the event creating more value chain partnerships and support systems, so that the participants will not only go back with farming knowledge, but also find market opportunities and collaborations for their agric produce and products.”

He congratulated all the forty-five (45) women farmers who have been shortlisted for the ‘Gold in the Soil Awards,’ and encouraged them to continue excelling in their chosen areas within the country’s agricultural value chain.

For her part, Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa Sarpong, revealed, this year’s ‘Gold in the Soil Awards’ received a total of eight-two (82) nominations this year from the Western and Western North region.

She said for the first time in four years the, ‘Super Woman Farmer Award Category’ committed to recognizing the exceptional efforts of Ghanaian women farmers with disabilities received significant entries; indicating a positive representation of the Foundations efforts over past 3 years.

Ten-year-old Esther Ofori is receiving an honorary recognition and support for her passion for agriculture, in spite of her physical challenges. Esther resides in Dzatokrom, in the Sewti Wiawso District of the Western North region.

In her ‘Gold in the Soil awards’ documentary, Esther reveals she cultivates a two-acre maize and yam farm. She shares with Agrihouse Foundation the challenges of living with a disability in a deprived community. While the documentary calls for support for Esther, it highlights her dedication towards farming and her education.

According to Ms. Akosa Sarpong, Agrihouse Foundation is immensely touched by the super-human abilities of the ten-year-old farmer, and to honor her potentials, the ‘Super Girl Farmer Award Category’ has been created especially for her.

Highlighting the remaining categories of the awards, she revealed Passion for Farm category, which goes to a woman excited and passionate about agribusiness and contributing to the growth of her community, received 17% of the total entries.

She said the Foundation is also paying close attention to women operating in the areas of climate smart farming, (CLIMATE SMART CATEGORY), the Lady of the Region Export Award Category and the “She-Operator Award Category”, which has over the years received the lowest entries, with only 2.5% of total women submitting entries this year.

This is an indication that, there is more room for improvement and some more work to do, and as a Foundation, we are looking forward to working, more closely with both the Private and Public institutions, development Partners and related agencies, to upgrade knowledge of women in agriculture, to enhance productivity, growth and expansion.

The remaining award categories, including Royal Agro Award, She Innovates, Outstanding Women in Extension Services, and Diamond in the rough Award, all received encouraging entries, between 10 to 18% nominations.

The Feed to Foods Awards, Star Woman Agripreneur Award, Princess Carla and Change Champion Award, all pulled off average numbers, between 8 to 10% nominations.

“Generally, we are satisfied with the balanced representation in the remaining categories; as well as the number of women farmers and Agribusinesses represented in this year’s nominations,” Ms. Akosa Sarpong said.

The ultimate Award, The Gold in the Soil Award received strong seven nominations, including 2 from women farmers with disabilities.  Over the last 3 years, the Award has been given to an outstanding woman in agriculture, producing along the entire agricultural value chain, from production through to processing, branding and marketing, among others. Importantly, her agribusiness should be making recognizable impacts on her community. Last year Madam Portia Asumda, from Zangeyire in the Upper East Region won the category.

This year, the two-part event is set to take place on Wednesday, June 22 and Thursday, June 23, at the Akroma Plaza Hotel in the Western Region, Takoradi, on the theme, “AGRIWOMAN: RECOVER- GROW- STAND OUT.”

Annually, the WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards moves from region to region, with the aim of empowering and celebrating the exceptional efforts of women in agriculture across the Regions.

In the past three (3) years, the two-part event has been held in the Volta Region, Ashanti Region, Upper East and West Regions. While the Women in Food and Agriculture Leadership Training Forum has developed and strengthened the capacities of over 2000 women in Agribusiness, by exposing them to more innovative approaches of handling their agribusinesses; the Gold in the Soil Awards has received about 638 entries, and awarded 45 agriwomen under the various categories.

The event also brings together stakeholders in government, policy and administration, development-partner organisations, Research, FBOs, Agric institutions, and resource persons, who support in the capacity building, training and mentorship sessions. The trainers and mentors empower the women with business knowledge and industry innovations, to help women excel in the sector.

This year, Global Affairs Canada, YARA, RDF Ghana, ABSA, OCP AFRICA, and Fidelity Bank are corporate sponsors the event.

Collaborating Institution include the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD), the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association (NFFAWAG) and the Western Regional Coordinating Council.