Boahemaa Ruth, a 38-year-old farmer from Kwabenkrakrom Dormaa West, has been nominated for the prestigious Diamond in the Rough Award at Agrihouse Foundation’s the 6th Agrihouse Foundation’s Women in Food and Agriculture Leadership Training Forum and Gold in the Soil Awards. Scheduled for July 9th to 10th, 2024, at Sunyani Technical University, this event celebrates the resilience, innovation, and contributions of women in agriculture across Ghana.

Boahemaa’s journey into farming began two decades ago at the young age of 18. Starting with plantain and cocoa, she expanded her agricultural ventures to include a diverse range of crops such as rice, vegetables, maize, onion, pepper, tomatoes, mango, avocado, and palm trees. Today, she cultivates a total of 10 acres, dedicating 5 acres specifically to rice farming.

The path to successful rice cultivation is fraught with challenges. From the meticulous process of seed planting to protecting young seedlings from birds and pests, every step demands unwavering attention. The application of fertilizers must be precisely timed to ensure healthy growth, and climate change introduces unpredictable elements that can drastically affect yields. Adequate water supply is crucial, as rice is a water-intensive crop.

Despite these challenges, Boahemaa has consistently demonstrated resilience and innovation. She once managed to produce 20 bags of rice independently but now employs a more strategic approach under the guidance of an agricultural master and supervisor. This has allowed her to maintain productivity and manage her resources more effectively. However, issues like low local rice prices and the lack of modern machinery for efficient processing continue to pose significant obstacles, increasing labor costs and reducing overall efficiency.

Boahemaa’s ingenuity is evident in her unique solutions to these challenges. She barters her homemade palm soup in exchange for labor, ensuring she has the necessary help to manage her farm. This creative approach not only sustains her farming operations but also strengthens community bonds. Her dedication to farming and her ability to find innovative solutions exemplify the resilience needed to thrive in agriculture.

The WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards aim to address such challenges by providing mentorship, networking opportunities, and financial support to over 8,000 women across the agricultural value chain. This year’s event, themed “Overcoming the Barriers to Women Agribusiness Development: The Role of Stakeholders,” will feature over 600 participants engaged in breakout panel discussions, training workshops, exhibitions, trade shows, speed networking, and mentorship sessions.

A highlight of the event will be the Gold in the Soil Awards, honoring exceptional women farmers and those with disabilities whose contributions have made a significant impact on the agricultural industry. The continued efforts of Agrihouse Foundation, in partnership with Global Affairs Canada and Yara, emphasize the critical role of women farmers and those with disabilities in ensuring food security, promoting sustainable practices, and driving economic growth.