On the 26th to 27th July, 2023, Agrihouse Foundation achieved a resounding success by hosting the fifth edition of the Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Training Forum (WOFAGRIC) and the Gold in the Soil Awards. This remarkable event unfolded at the Bedtime Hotel in Koforidua, Eastern Region, under the theme “OVERCOMING THE BARRIERS TO WOMEN AGRIBUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: THE ROLE OF STAKEHOLDERS.”
Annually, the event moves from Region to Region. In the past five (5) years, it has been held in the Volta Region, Ashanti Region, Upper East, and West Regions, and the Eastern Region. bringing together Women farmers and stakeholders in Government, Corporate leaders, Policy and Administration, Development-Partner Organizations, Agric institutions, and Resource Persons.
The two day intervention, brought together a gathering of over six hundred (600) participants, including stakeholders, industry leaders, women farmers, and farmers with disabilities. Providing a platform to celebrate accomplishments, facilitate knowledge exchange, and forge a path toward a more inclusive and prosperous agricultural sector.
On the first day, participants engaged in activities, including, panel discussions 10-1 break-out sessions, which provided woman farmers and participants with hands-on educational opportunities. From learning about farm safety to financial management, markets, exports, investments, and farm nutrition, participants also engaged in training workshops, exhibitions, trade shows, speed networking, and mentorship sessions. Empowering them to gain valuable insights, exchange best practices, and forge collaborations that have the potential to reshape the future of agriculture in Ghana.
The second day culminated with the “GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS,” where 15 women farmers and farmers with disability were recognized and awarded across 15 different categories. Their stories were highlighted through a documentary series, celebrating their passion, zeal, and desires.
recognizing and honouring exceptional women farmers and women with disabilities who have made remarkable contributions to the agricultural industry. Their unwavering dedication, innovative approaches, and transformative impact were celebrated, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps and drive further progress within the sector.
38-YEAR-OLD MARGARET AGYEI WINS THE PRESTIGIOUS GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARD
A moment of celebration and recognition unfolded at the 5th Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Training Forum and Gold in the Soil Awards as Margaret Agyei, a 38-year-old female farmer from Akim Achiase, stood proudly as the recipient of the coveted Gold in the Soil Award she also took home a tricycle ,knapsacks,fertilizers wellington boots ,irrigation kit,Seeds among others .
Her farming prowess is nothing short of extraordinary, as she adeptly manages a diverse range of crops and livestock on her impressive 94-acre farm.From Palm Plantation, plantain, cassava, maize, cocoa, poultry, goat, grass cutter, rabbit, to cows, her integrated farming approach reflects a harmonious blend of agricultural activities contributing to a sustainable and productive farming landscape.
Expressing her joy and gratitude, Margaret Agyei stated, “I am truly honored and humbled to receive the Gold in the Soil Award. Farming has been my passion, and I am dedicated to making a positive impact on our community and the farming sector as a whole. This award is not just for me; it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of women farmers like me who strive to make a difference.”she stated
Other Winners of the Gold in the Soil Awards also included Nana Felicia Akyeamah ,won the Passion for Farm Award, Mrs. Dzidzinyo K Fianu took home the Change Champion Award, Delali Esi Agyeman won the Outstanding Woman in Extension Services Award, Lydia Gyebi Asare won the Feed to Food Award, and Abigail Ghama for the She-innovates Award, other winners also included Hajara Mohammed , the She-operates Award, Ernestina Osei-Tutu won the Princess Carla Award, Adwoa Agyeiwaa for the Diamond in the Rough Award, Doris Opokua Hagan for the Climate Smart Award, Faustina Mamle Nartey for the Star Woman Agripreneur Award, Nana Obaapanin Konadu Kontie ii took home the Royal Agro Award, Global Affairs Canada and World Food Program also received the Honorary Development Partner Award .
This year, Agrihouse Foundation also awarded and celebrated all women farmers with disabilities under the super women awards category ,for their hard work and dedication to farming,who irrespective of their challenges are thriving to make an impact for themselves .
Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa Sarpong, Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, commended all the winners of the gold in the soil awards for their immense contributions to the agricultural sector, stating, “Theri remarkable success in farming exemplifies the spirit of the Gold in the Soil Award. It recognizes and celebrates the outstanding efforts of women farmers who play a critical role in driving our nation’s agricultural growth and food security.”
The fifth WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards organized by Agrihouse Foundation in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, World Food Program, YARA, and RDF Ghana LBG, with collaborating institutions including the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Eastern Regional Agricultural Directorate, Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD), the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association (NFFAWAG), and the Eastern Regional Coordinating Council.
Other sponsors for the 5th WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards included Interplast Limited, Ghana Exim Bank, Browngi Tractors and Implements, RST Machinery Limited, Rainbow Agrosciences, HJA Africa, Moudlyne Gh. Ltd, The Hunger Project, and C-Mativents.
Distinguished guest at the fifth included, Honourable Yaw Frimpong Addo, Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Crops); Madam Hajia Habiba Yusifu, Eastern Regional Director for Agriculture; Dr. Comfort Acheampong, Coordinator for Ghana National Egg Campaign Secretariat; Madam Kathleen Flynn -Dapaah, Director and Head of Cooperation, Global Affairs Canada; Madam Candace Holt, Agriculture Sector Lead at the High Commission of Canada in Ghana; Mr. Kudjoe Agbenyega, Acting Managing Director for YARA Ghana; Seli Abena Azanku, Communications Officer for RDF Ghana LBG; Tani Aduko Bukari, Programme Policy Officer for Gender and Youth Inclusion at the World Food Programme (WFP); as well as students, heads, and members of women farmers’ groups.
Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa – Recognizing and Celebrating the Invaluable Contributions of Women Farmers
In her welcoming address, Madam Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, the Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, illuminated the significance of inclusivity and empowerment for women with disabilities in the agricultural sector. She underscored the pivotal role women farmers play in Ghana’s agricultural landscape, emphasizing their dedication and resilience in advancing the sector. “We must recognize and celebrate the invaluable contributions of women farmers who serve as the backbone of our agricultural communities.
‘’Their tireless work and unwavering commitment ensure food security and economic prosperity. Through WOFAGRIC and the Gold in the Soil Awards, our goal is to empower and uplift these women, offering them the resources and recognition they rightfully deserve,” expressed Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa.
She further emphasized the importance of supporting women farmers with disabilities and empowering them to overcome challenges and thrive in the agricultural sector.
Dr. Comfort Acheampong-Harnessing the Power of WOFAGRIC and Gold in The Soil Awards
The Chairperson of the planning committee for the 5th WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards, Dr. Comfort Acheampong, urged women farmers and farmers with disabilities to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Training Forum and Gold in the Soil Awards. She called for the removal of barriers, promotion of inclusivity, and empowerment of women in agribusiness.
Hon. Yaw Frimpong Addo – Acknowledging Women’s Contribution to Food Security
For his part, The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Hon. Yaw Frimpong Addo, stressed the importance of empowering women, especially those with disabilities, in agriculture. He attributed Ghana’s current food security to the significant contribution of women in the sector and called for continued support to enable them to thrive.
“Women make up more than half of Ghana’s agricultural labour force with many engaged in planting seeds, harvesting, processing foods, selling, and cooking. If not for our women, we will be very hungry in this country and so it is important to give them the maximum support to enable them to thrive,” he stated.
Hajia Habiba Yusifu – Commends the Unwavering Dedication and Resilience of Women in Agriculture
The Eastern Regional Agricultural Director, Hajia Habiba Yusifu commended the unwavering dedication and resilience of women in agriculture, acknowledging their pivotal role in the sector. From tilling the fields to nurturing livestock and crafting nutritious meals, women have consistently demonstrated their capabilities, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts and excelling in every aspect of the agricultural domain.
She shed light on the persistent gender disparities that hinder women’s progress in the field, such as limited access to crucial resources, funds, vital information, and transformative technologies, all of which pose significant challenges. She emphasized the need for collective action to break down these barriers, creating an inclusive and equitable environment that empowers women to thrive and realize their aspirations.
By embracing gender-responsive initiatives, the agricultural sector can cultivate a thriving landscape that nourishes food security, drives poverty reduction, and nurtures sustainable development, she added. Key to this advocacy is the call for robust support mechanisms, including gender-responsive policies that recognize and honour the critical contributions of women in agriculture.
Kathleen Flynn – Community Support Vital for Women in Agriculture
In her address, Kathleen Flynn-Dapaah, the Director and Head of Cooperation for Global Affairs Canada, highlighted that women often dedicate their time to caring for others, nurturing families, and ensuring the well-being of their communities stressing on the symbiotic relationship between communities and women’s empowerment, pointing out that when women are supported, businesses also benefit. Recognizing the invaluable contributions of women farmers, she commended their efforts and resilience.
Flynn-Dapaah also extended her commendation to women farmers with disabilities, acknowledging the challenges they overcome and the inspiration they provide. She urged for a collective effort to help women farmers thrive and encouraged the cultivation of women-led agribusinesses. “Empowering women in agriculture is not just a matter of equity; it’s about leveraging their potential to drive economic growth and sustainable development,” Flynn-Dapaah stated.
Madam Candace Holt – Government, Farmer Groups, And Organizations Urged to Empower Women and Ensure Their Active Participation and Representation
Madam Candace Holt, Agriculture Sector Lead at the High Commission of Canada in Ghana, championed gender equality and women’s empowerment in Ghana’s agriculture sector. She urged government, farmer groups, and organizations to empower women and ensure their active participation and representation. Advocating for women’s voices to be heard, Candace Holt urged for greater representation in agricultural cooperatives, farmers’ associations, and rural organizations, creating platforms for active participation and ensuring their interests are adequately represented.
“Our vision is to see women farmers thriving, benefiting from the entire agricultural value chain, generating employment, and sustaining their agribusinesses,” expressed Candace Holt fervently. “We envision Ghanaian women-led agribusinesses expanding their horizons beyond the nation’s borders, achieving higher incomes, and contributing significantly to the nation’s economic prosperity. “She added
While acknowledging the challenges that hinder women’s progress in the agricultural domain, she emphasized the need for a sustainable revenue stream to meet women’s basic needs, support their families, and secure their future. Key barriers, such as limited access to financing, land, and productive resources, as well as unequal access to skills and information compared to men, were brought to the forefront.
Tani Aduko Bukari-WFP Reaffirms Commitment to Food Security and Empowering Women
The Programme Policy Officer for Gender and Youth Inclusion at the World Food Programme (WFP), Tani Aduko Bukari, commended the invaluable contributions of women in agriculture and reaffirmed WFP’s unwavering commitment to food security and empowering women and the girl child.
Highlighting WFP’s relentless efforts in supporting governments and organizations with cutting-edge technology and empowering training programs in the agricultural sector, she emphasized the pivotal role of stakeholders in fostering an inclusive environment that nurtures the growth and development of women in agribusiness.
“As an organization devoted to eradicating hunger and promoting gender equality, the World Food Programme is profoundly honoured to commend the exceptional contributions of women in agriculture. We firmly believe that empowering women in agribusiness is not only a fundamental aspect of food security but also a pivotal force driving sustainable development,” she stated.
She also underscored the utmost importance of empowering women in agriculture and ensuring their active participation in decision-making processes, adding that the World Food Programme remains steadfast in collaborating with governments and organizations, bridging gaps, and creating opportunities that empower women to flourish in the agricultural sector. This commitment ultimately leads to enhanced food security and sustainable development in Ghana and across the globe.
Mr Kudjoe Agbenyega – Advocates for Equal Opportunities for Women
Adding his voice, Mr. Kudjoe Agbenyega, Acting Managing Director for YARA Ghana, passionately advocated for the empowerment of women in agriculture and the dismantling of entrenched socio-cultural barriers that hinder their progress in the agricultural value chain.
Shedding light on the crucial topic, “Changing the Entrenched Socio-Cultural Norms and Breaking Traditional Barriers Critical to the Development of Agriwomen in the Agricultural Value Chain,”
He recognized the historical significance of women in agriculture as the backbone of societies, emphasizing their pivotal role in providing sustenance and driving economic growth.
“Let us strive to create an inclusive environment where women have equal opportunities to access credit, technology, and training,”. Mr. Agbenyega emphasized, advocating for empowering women to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit and drive innovation in agricultural sector.
Seli Abena Azanku – RDF Ghana LBG Is Dedicated to Providing Access to Funds and Capacity-Building Services for Women Farmers
Seli Abena Azanku, the Communications Officer for RDF Ghana LBG, highlighted the significance of providing technical and financial aid to marginalized groups, including women, youth, and individuals with disabilities, to thrive in their agricultural endeavours.
“RDF Ghana LBG is dedicated to providing access to funds and capacity-building services for women farmers, agribusinesses, and everyone across the agricultural value chain. Our focus on women farmers and farmers with disabilities stems from their pivotal role in Ghana’s agricultural landscape. RDF Ghana LBG’s funding aligns seamlessly with initiatives like WOFAGRIC and Gold in The Soil Awards,” she emphasized.
She passionately highlighted the need to reach out to the younger generation, offering invaluable advice that resonates with the very essence of their aspirations. With compelling urgency, she fervently encouraged the youth to wholeheartedly embrace the realm of agriculture, recognizing it as not just a profession but a deeply fulfilling vocation.
Annually, the Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Training Forum (WOFAGRIC) and the 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 five (5) years, the Interventional Event has been held in the Volta Region, Ashanti Region, Upper East and Upper West Regions, and the Eastern Region ,next Year the 6th WOFAGRIC and Gold in the soil awards will move to the Bono Region.
The Women in Food and Agriculture Leadership Training Forum has developed and strengthened the capacities of over 7000 women in Agribusiness, by exposing them to more innovative approaches of handling their agribusinesses; the Gold in the Soil Awards has received about 1000 entries and awarded more than 80 women across the entire agricultural value chain under various categories.
Exciting Images from the 5th WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards held in Koforidua in the Eastern Region