The role of training, mentorship, and knowledge sharing among agriculturists is integral. These efforts lead to holistic mental and technical capacity building among actors, leading to higher productivity within the agric value chain. The thoughts were well-articulated by the West Africa Regional Director of YARA, Mr. Danquah Addo-Yobo, in a welcome message recently delivered on his behalf, at the 3rd Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Training Forum (WOFAGRIC) and the Gold in the Soil Awards, organized by Agrihouse Foundation in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region.
Exploring the theme of the 2-day event, “Surviving, Thriving and Making Waves beyond the Pandemic,” the regional director said that for women in agriculture to survive, thrive and make waves beyond the pandemic in the agricultural sector, deliberate policy actions needed to be in place to mitigate the challenges they face. He was therefore glad that, the annual event did not only seek to celebrate agri-women who were shining exceptionally in their roles, but also, the event served as a training and mentoring platform that facilitated knowledge sharing, enabling the women to build on their understanding within the agric sector.
This year, as part of the capacity building training and mentoring sessions, the agric-women were taken through topics such as:- How Agri-women can make the most out of the pandemic; how to keep proper accounting and records in farming and co-operative management/ funding opportunities, and how to access loans and funding.
Others included:- best practices and skills to adopt in farm management; and simple steps to develop a business plan; practical ways of overcoming challenges among agribusiness women; how to improve and increase markets, through digital and technological innovation; how women agribusinesses can be grown and connected to a world of opportunities. The rest are:- Farming for Export, Promotion and Development; enhancing access to finance and promoting quality standards within agricultural spaces.
He was particularly pleased that YARA representatives were selected to share knowledge on, “Best Practices and Skills to adopt in Farm Management,” considering the emphasis Yara places on sharing knowledge and building capacity within the agricultural sector. “Yara grows knowledge to responsibly feed the world and protect the planet, to fulfill our vision of a collaborative society, a world without hunger and a planet respected,” he stressed.
To meet these commitments, he said Yara have taken the lead in developing digital farming tools for precision farming and work closely with partners throughout the whole food value chain to develop more climate-friendly crop nutrition solutions. In addition, the globe company has committed to working towards sustainable mineral fertilizer production; fostering an open culture of diversity and inclusion within its organization. Such efforts promote the safety and integrity of employees, contractors, business partners, and society.
Mr. Addo-Yobo therefore urge the women to participate actively in the sessions; ask questions and even make suggestions. This, he said, would help them put the knowledge gained into practice and share with others who did not have an opportunity to be at the event. He further used the opportunity to encourage the women to keep working hard and scaling up their efforts. He said, even in the mist of the COVID-19 Pandemic, women farmers in the country played major roles in ensuring that the country’s agricultural sector saw a healthy growth of 2.5 percent, according the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS). “However, women continue to face challenges such as, “gender-based disparities in terms of access to resources and services, influencing decision-making, unfair land tenure systems and unbalanced economic opportunities,” he added.
He said agencies like Women in Agriculture and Ministry of Food and Agriculture must work to ensure equal access to capital, capacity building and other essential linkages in the sector. Touching on YARA’S association with WOFAGRIC & Gold in the Soil Awards, he said YARA recognizes the crucial roles women play in various areas of the agricultural value chain, even as they continue to take responsibility for their family’s welfare, health, education, food and nutrition. He said Yara Ghana has been supportive of the event from the onset and will continue to be a part of WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards because the events seek to improve the capacities and highlight the efforts of our gallant women farmers.
Third WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards
This year, the 2-days event helped to explore ways to enhance women’s resilience and recovery from the effects of the pandemic, while enabling women in agribusiness to develop, improve and sustain new agricultural practices, as well as develop their business within this pandemic era and beyond. Appropriately, the theme was, “Surviving, Thriving and Making Waves beyond the Pandemic.”
The second part of the event, the ‘Gold in the Soil Awards,’ is an awards scheme dedicated to strengthening and projecting a paradigm shift of celebrating women farmers, processors, marketers and women who are playing a role within the agricultural value chain, including women into Transportation, packaging, Technology, input dealers, etc. The Awards moves from Region to Region, yearly, to search for these extraordinary women who contribute significantly to putting food on our tables daily. Their stories are shared in a documentary series produced by Agrihouse Foundation. This year, the Awards Scheme received 131 nominations from both Upper East and Upper West Region; the first time nominations were opened in such a way, “to allow more women from culturally diverse backgrounds an opportunity to participate in the awards scheme,” the Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Ms. Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, noted.
During the assessments and breakdown of entries received, the Foundation realised that 50% of the entries were from women farmers, farming between 10-65 acres of maize, yam, groundnut, soya beans, vegetables, Bambara beans, millet and sorghum. 32% of the women were largely into Processing, Packaging and marketing of Shea, Neem, Moringa, Boabab, Dawada, groundnut, oils, etc. 15% were into distribution and marketing of Input (seeds, fertilizers, etc) and about 3% of these women were into Tractor and Equipment operating and hiring. Furthermore, the majority of women farmers who submitted entries were between ages 25-65years, and have been operating their businesses within a period of 2 to 40years, “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,” Ms. Akosa said.
At the end of the assessments and breakdown, out of 131 nomination, 45 women were shortlisted and documented on video telling their stories as agri-women. The number was further shortlisted to 14 agri-women who received the Gold in the Soil Awards.
Portia Wins the Ultimate Gold in the Soil Award
Madam Portia Asumda, was crowned the ultimate ‘Gold in the Soil Awards,’ Winner this year. The thirty-eight years old farmer hails from Zangeyire in the Upper East Region, and has been farming for the past eight years. She is into shea-processing and crop production, and rearing of livestock. In crop production, she farms twenty acres of land, of which she uses ten acres for maize production; two acres for Guinea corn; three acres for groundnut; and two acres for rice. She rears about two hundreds ruminants; one hundred and twenty cows; and five hundred guinea fowls. She works with about two thousand agri-women across upper-east, west and the Tansi district. Under her leadership and coordination, they are able to process their sheabutter, which for some years now; they have had opportunity to start exporting to countries like the USA and Canada. They export up to forty tonnes of sheabutter.
Touching on challenges, she said transportation and the absence of a farm tractor makes it difficult for them to transport their harvest and plough their farmlands. “When we hire a tractor to come and plough our land, one plot is one hundred and fifty Ghana cedis. So ploughing all twenty acres is very expensive and is a problem,” she stated.
She said a “Motor King,” the tricycle they use to transport food from the farm would considerably solves their transportation challenges, and therefore pleaded with Agrihouse Foundation and sponsors to provide the farm with one. Emerging as the ultimate Gold in the Soil Award winner, Portia Asumda, took home a brand new tricycle to aid with transportation on her farm, just like she requested for. She was awarded a Gold in the Soil Award plague and other incentives, including, bottles of fertilizer provided by Yara Ghana, an irrigation pump, provided and to be installed on her farm by Interplast. She received a certificate of honor, a full piece of cloth and branded T-shirts from sponsors. The rest of the winners in the various categories are as follows:
The Passion for Farm Award— Portia Gban, from Upper West Region. The award recognizes an individual woman who is excited and passionately about agribusiness and contributing to the growth of her community, creating jobs, mentoring girls in the community and supporting them to take up agric, either small scale and large scale.
She Innovates Award— Gafaratu Fuseini, from Upper East Region. This award goes to a woman who has or is working with the power of innovation and adding value to her agro business. She Identified a challenge within the community and the value chain and found a solution through innovation.
Climate Smart Women Project Award— Memuna Abdul Rahaman, from Upper West Region. This award provides recognition for the efforts of a group of women or a woman-led organization, implementing an outstanding project in agriculture by adopting a climate smart approach and practices that supports in the transformation, development and is sustainably increasing agricultural productivity in her community.
Outstanding Woman in Extension Services Award— Leuzumah Rashida, from Upper West Region. This award provides recognition to women, either in the public or private sector, contributing effortlessly through training, capacity building, advocacy, to encourage the adaptation of best practices by farmers, thereby contributing significantly to the empowerment and socio-economic development of the society and the country as a whole.
Super Woman Farmer Award— Alima Wahabu, from Upper East Region. This special category goes to a physically challenged woman, whose role, works and passion for agriculture, is contributing largely to community development, food security, poverty alleviation, job creation and economic growth in the Agric sector.
Royal Agro Award— Ayiesheitu Mahamadu Asaki, from Upper East Region. Through this award, we identify a traditional leader (Queen mother), who is into agriculture herself and her personal commitment to see women in agriculture in her community develop and thrive, is helping them in all ways possible through access to land, training, social impact programs and advocacy.
Diamond in the Rough Award— Saantuma Sala, from Upper West Region. This award goes to a generational role model, making waves at the background within her community, an unsung heroine, who has indeed mentored and made great strides for her family, her people and the community as a whole.
Feed to Foods Award— Genevive Akugu, from Upper East Region. This is to a woman with great determination and integrity who has continuously demonstrated a positive role in poultry and livestock and has an unwavering commitment to succeed in this sector.
Change Champion Award— Asieme Elsie Azelikumah, from Upper East Region. This category goes to the professional corporate woman, whose ongoing effort, passion for her job, contribution and dedication to her work in the agro space, is contributing significantly to corporate internal change, whiles making a national impact.
Development Partner Award—Canadian High Commission. This award recognizes the efforts of an International organization, whose works centres on agriculture and in particular, towards the development of women in the community, encouraging to adopt best practices, whiles adding value.
Lady of the Export Region Award— Anita Sutha, from Upper West Region. This category recognizes and rewards the region’s most successful and innovative woman exporter, with regards to the size of the business and the export sales.
Star Woman Agripreneur Award— Mavis Alahire Aboko, from Upper East region. This special recognition goes out to an outstanding agribusiness beginning young lady, in any field of agriculture. This young lady should be seen to be excelling (ie, efficiency in service delivery, income performance,) in her field and already a great role model, mentoring other young girls in her community.
She operates Award— Joy okrah, from Upper West Region. This Award recognises an exceptional female into operation management and maintenance of tractor services. She should be earning income from this trade and imparted her community with her skill.
Princess Carla Award— Hawawu Gbahara, from Upper West Region. This award recognizes the efforts of a dedicated woman, whose works and role affects communities positively; touching lives, mentoring, role modelling, advising, counselling and enhancing networks for other women, both young and old.
WOFAGRIC and Gold in the soil Awards, this year, was in partnership with Canadian High Commission, ABSA Ghana and YARA, INTERPLAST, OCP AFRICA, PEG AFRICA, LUMINANT ELECTRICALS AND RDF GHANA. Collaborating Institution included, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD) and the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association (NFFAWAG).
The recent launch of the 3rd Women in Food and Agriculture Leadership Training Forum & The Gold in the Soil Awards, brought together guests and dignitaries, who like Agrihouse Foundation, have the agricultural sector at heart, and want to see it flourish in growth and productivity. They included, Nana Hemaa Adowa Awinor, who served as Chairperson for the event; Madam Fatima Alimohammed, Agribusiness Chairperson of Association of Ghana Industries, who was the guest speaker.
Organizing partners and sponsor organizations, were made up of the Canadian high Commission, represented by Deputy Director of Operations at Stephanie Brunet; Mrs. Grace Amin-Yeboah, head of Business Banking at ABSA; Mr. Addo Danquah-Yobo, West-Africa Regional Director of YARA Ghana. Others included, personalities from Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD); the Department of Policy Planning Monitoring & Evaluation, both under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture; and the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association of Ghana (NFFAWAG).
The day also brought together a number of Queen Mothers and Agri-women from Women’s Small Livestock Breeders Association, as well as, Women in Poultry Value Chain; Yonkodo Farmers Group; Mrs. Mabel Kudzo, 2nd National Best Farmer in 2017; Madam Evelyn Aditsey, Director of at ACDI/VOCA, and Agrihouse Foundation, Gold in the Soil Award Nominees; Madam Cecelia Akoka, Cattle, Oranges, Plantain and Yam Farmer from Nkwaakwa District; Madam Yaa Kesewa, Cassava and Maize Farmer, from Ofoase District; Madam Nana Pomaa, Rabbit and Grasscutter Farmer, from Morso District; and Madam Ramatu Amadu, Pepper and maize Farmer, from Nkwaakwa District.
Most importantly, the launch of the 3rd WOFAGRIC & Gold in the Soil Awards gave the women an uninterrupted platform to share their impact stories through their efforts in the agricultural sector; highlighting challenges, but also how they continue to forge forward.
Agri-Women Stories & Challenges
Madam Rebecca Aboagye of Yonkodo Farmers Group revealed that the covid-19 period has been very challenging for the about 30 thousand women farmers she works, which concerns like access to transport, working capital, ready market, post-harvest losses and farming machinery and equipment being on top of their list. But their love for farming, specifically has kept them going and has been their biggest motivation. She noted that access to funds will solve much of their challenges because they were a dedicated and hardworking group of women farmers who are ready to make good use of the support they receive. But presently, the group had little support, and even in spite of their challenges, they are not ready to give up on agriculture— because, beyond striving to find market for their crops, they also donate to the prisons, charity home and families in need in their communities, which is a good thing.
Agrihouse Foundation, Madam Rebecca Aboagye noted, is the only organization that continues to stand with them, and therefore thanked the organization for recently organizing the Agri-Woman Market Place; a directly marketplace event which helped her and a number of colleagues sell of much of their produces, “But we need money, government support; farm machines, and wellington boots for our farming activities,” she pleaded, “Because of the pandemic we lost about 360 archers of rice; 160 archers of cabbage and carrots; 260 archers of plantains. We have recently started planting about 30,000 archers of food crops, and we need help to continue working” she bemoaned.
Also stressing on the need for funding for women in agric, Mrs. Mabel Kodzo was a clear example of an agric-woman who will do so much when she receives maximum financial backing for her efforts. The 2nd National Best Farmer in 2017, noted that, even as a child psychologist, farming was a big passion of hers; so, she later in her career, she went back to school to study agronomy, which helped her to start cultivating her farm in the Oti Region. Mrs. Mabel Kodzo is a proud owner of about 2,230 archers of farmland; about 1000 archers being brown rice, and the rest, other food crops. She works with 3,000 women, in 13 districts of the oti region. Touching on her experiences with trying to access funds for her farming projects, she said until the pandemic, she was trying on her own, but within this short period, she has suffered a number of losses that caused her to lose money, “to start with, the rains did not come early, and I also started feeling sick,” she revealed, “The doctor stopped me from going into the farm. For a while I didn’t know how to overcome this situation, because the women I worked with looked up to me and most of them were becoming very afraid to go back to work of the farm as well because of covid-19” she explained.
When her husband stepped in to help her manage the farm and her health was starting to get better, she finally thought the worst had passed. But unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, “Just when we were ready to harvest our 1000 archers of rice, 3000 cows belonging to Fulani herdsmen intruded our farmers and destroyed our rice crops,” Mrs. Kodzo revealed. As a result of these huge losses, she also now has to depend on bank support when prior to the pandemic it wasn’t the case, “the banks make all kinds of promises and assurances in the media to poultry farmers, but ones you get there, it’s a different story. They are not willing to lend to you because they know the risks associated with poultry farming” she said. Presently, even though, according to her, she’s being able to pick up again in the areas of poultry and animal husbandry, and hopes to go back to rice production soon, that will require financial support which she currently doesn’t have, “I am helping a lot of the young ladies stay on the farms in oti region. I don’t want this setback to be the reason any of them will migrate to Accra to become Kayayei. We need help” she said.
Madam Gafaratu Fusseini, CEO of Queen Gaf Enterprise, who came from Tamale in the Northern region to participate in the event, noted that, a few months into the pandemic, she realized that the public was more focused on buying sanitizing products like hand sanitizers, paper towels, and t-rolls. Thus, she had to quickly adjusted her business activities to align with the times. She went into the production of sanitizing products, after making enquiries from the Food and Drugs Authority. Producing sanitizing products has been quite successful, she said during the session. She was able to depend on some plants like allo vera to help in the production of her sanitizing products. She has since gone back to crop production, but because of her innovative thinking in these times, she now has an added business, and was thankful to Agrihouse for creating the Agri-Woman platform that helps agri-women like her showcase their services and products.
Agri-Interventions for Women Farmers
For her part, Madam Evelyn Aditsey, of the United States Department of Agriculture, Ghana Poultry Project, noted that the spread of covid-19 took many of their beneficiaries by surprise, and as quickly as possible, the organization had to find alternative ways to continue engaging with them, in line with their activities and program, “we resorted to a horizontal kind of assistance, where we conduct our trainings through zoom, and other online platforms,” she said. But unfortunately, not all their beneficiaries are conversant with using electronic media, so that has been one of their challenges. She also revealed that within the agric value chain, animal farmers have been affected most by the covid-19 pandemic. Thus, regarding funding, the organization secured some financial support for their beneficiaries, to help them get back to work. She was happy to state that, even with all the challenges of the period, the agri-women made judiciously use of the funds, and have been able to pay back their loans.
In her presentation, which happened after listening to the women farmers deliberate on their challenges in accessing funds towards their agricultural projects, the Head of Business Banking at ABSA Ghana, Mrs. Grace Amin Yeboah, noted that, it was time for Corporate Ghana to step when it comes to funding agricultural initiatives in the country, even though the agric sector is frost with challenges, “but where there are challenges, we need to find alternative ways of dealing,” she said. She said banks can come together with agricultural institutions to create different structures and interventions that help agricultural initiatives to grow in the country. She noted that such collaborations have a high chance of succeeding because women largely pay their banks loans, and Agrihouse Foundation, through WOFAGRIC is shedding light on small scale farmers, who are mostly women— but according to research contributes up to about 80 percent of all agricultural produces grown in the country, “so what can we begin to do differently to fashion solutions for our our women farmers?” she asked. According to her, ABSA Ghana has been working on a number of solutions in this regard, “we have created a women’s solution called EMERGE; a banking solution that looks at the totality of the woman agripreneurs need. The whole idea is to bridge the financial gab between women led and men led SME’s.”
She said this solution by ABSA Ghana is looking at how to facilitate business growth for women, to increase employment and reduce poverty, in line with MDG number 5, which is to empower women and achieve gender quality. The solution also creates developmental and networking opportunities for business women, access to market and discount on banking facilities, free financial and business advisory services, international travelling opportunities and organizing coding bootcamps for children of women-farmers.
She noted that, in order for agri-women to fully enjoy the benefits of this solution, they must ensure they are practicing best business practices such as proper bookkeeping, “We have also partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to actually provide financial support, and the plan is to lend out a hundred million dollars, equivalent in cedis, over the next five years. We hope to impact at least 5000 SME’s,” she revealed, emphasizing that, Undoubtedly, financial interventions like this will help agri-women groups like Women’s Small Livestock Breeders, Women in Poultry Value Chain, Yonkodo farmers Group, and the many more women agripreneurs who were present at the launch.
On his part, the West-Africa Regional Director of Yara Ghana, Mr. Addo Danquah-Yobo, said Yara Ghana is also well placed to contribute significantly to the issues about fertilizer supply for farmers in the country, with emphasis on women farmers, considering the climate and environmentally smart nutrition solutions the organization provides, as well as the several digital offerings that it will be rolling out soon to support small holder farmers to be more productive, profitable and resilient.
He said, now more than ever, there is a need to rethink and find sustainable approaches to doing business during and beyond COVID-19. He therefore praised Agrihouse for the theme for WOFAGRIC, which he said was very appropriate, “Women in Agric: Surviving, Thriving, and Making Waves beyond the Pandemic.”
He said Yara globally is also engaging partners in the Food Chain to ensure that everyone everywhere has enough good-quality food to lead a healthy life by improving the productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers by promoting equal access to land, technology and markets, sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices as part of the UN SDG Goal 2.
Mr. Addo Danquah-Yobo therefore urged the agri-women to set high ambitions and targets for themselves, and work at meeting them. He said it is not enough to be a woman farmer, and even though the COVId-19 has intensified a lot of challenges women face in the sector, it has also inspired some new opportunities. He therefore encouraged the women to focus more on the new opportunities and use this COVID-19 period to build resilience that will improve their activities in the long term.
He said corporate Ghana must also do more for women farmers to ensure gender equality in the sector. He therefore used the opportunity to commend the women for their hard throughout the years and praised Agrihoiuse Foundation for pushing a platform like WOFAGRIC & Gold in the Soil Award, that continues to celebrate, educate, train and highlight the challenges of women in the agric sector. He said YARA Ghana, like Agrihouse Foundation is committed to the development and achievements of women, thus, YARA Ghana will continue to support WOFAGRIC & Gold in the Soil Awards for many years.
“Yara Ghana is passionate about women achievers; our human resource manager for West African is a woman; our best distributor is a woman, one of our best field agronomists is a woman, based in northern Ghana,” he noted, “Yara Ghana is looking forward to the day when the national best farmer, best exporter, best processor, will be women farmers” he said.
Well-Wishes from Partners
In a speech read on his behalf, the Upper east Regional Director of Agriculture, Mr. Francis Ennor, of the total estimated farmer population in the region, 49% are women farmers.
He said the region has therefore in recent times, organized and strengthened women capacities in the areas of agribusiness and marketing, “the region organized a regional agribusiness partnership platform which brought together processors, aggregators, marketers, financial institutions, input dealers and services providers,” he outlined.
He thanked Foundation for choosing the Upper East Region to host this year’s two-days event, “the Upper East Region is more than prepared to for the project and would therefore accord it all the necessary technical support it desires to succeed” he assured.
For his part, the Regional Director of the Upper West Region, noted that empowering women farmers is the way to ending hunger and poverty.
He said, according to a FAO report, if 43 % of the agricultural labour force in developing countries were women and had the same access to resources as men farmers, this could increase production in developing countries by 20-30% and potentially reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100 to 150 million people.
He therefore described WOFAGRIC & Gold in the Soil Awards as a laudable idea, and commended Agrihouse for pushing it, “when this is done, it will build life-long resilience to mitigate the effects of any pandemic occurrence on women farmers,” he said.
The Chairman of the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association (NFFAWAG), in his speech, praised the agri-women for working tirelessly throughout this period of COVID-19, feeding Ghanaians with fruits and vegetables that help to our immune systems as required in these times.
“it the midst of the challenges, COVID-19 has also brought out opportunities in the agricultural value chain, in areas of production, distribution, processing, sales and branding, which our distinguished women in agric are taking advantage of” he added. He said NFFAWAG is looking forward to a successful main event in June and thanked Agihouse Foundation for the opportunity to be part of it.
The Department of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, also in a speech, noted that because the Ministry is committed to public private partnerships, that is why in the past four years it has been engaging Agrihouse Foundation in all of its activities, “we see the practical and corroborative impacts the Foundation is making in the agric sector and we are very comfortable to call ourselves partners,” he said.
He said the two organizations have over the years been effectively collaborating in the planning and the execution of the National Farmers Day Celebration, “I can confidently say that we have been doing a great job and we look forward to more fruitful engagements in that area” he added.
He thanked Agrihouse for the opportunity to be part of the planning committee of WOFAGRIC and called for more support for the Foundation, “Let me use this opportunity to note how praise worthy it is that Canadian High Commission is standing with Agrihouse as a main organizing partner. On behalf of Agrihouse, I will call on other institutions to come on board to support the various interventional agri-projects the organization is championing,” he said.
The Beauty of WOFAGRIC & Gold in the Soil Awards 2021
The theme for this year’s 2-day event is ‘WOMEN IN AGRIC – SURVIVING, THRIVING & MAKING WAVES, BEYOND THE PANDEMIC’ and is scheduled to take place in June, in Bolgatanga, the Upper East Region of Ghana. According to the Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Ms. Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, this year, Agrihouse is receiving nominations for the Gold in the Soil Awards, from both Upper East and Upper West Region, “this is the first time the Foundation is opening up nominations in such a way,” she said, “to allow more women from culturally diverse backgrounds an opportunity to participate in the awards scheme.
2019 & 202o Impacts of WOFAGRIC & Gold in the Soil Awards
Since 2019, WOFAGRIC has helped shape and build more career women in the field of agriculture in their various rural areas and communities, continuously being a source of women empowerment. 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 whist 2 of them picked up awards at the National awards. In 2020, even though held under strict COVID-19 protocols at the end of the tw0-day event, 25 % of women who were not into agribusiness but attended the program had decided to start up their own agri-projects, as a result of the competence based training and soft skills, they had acquired; about 900 women were groomed to take up leadership roles and build their capacities, to drive them towards growth and expansion of their agribusinesses.
The Gold in the Soil Awards
The Gold in the Soil Awards seeks to recognize and celebrate pioneering women and trailblazers who push the boundaries along the agribusiness value chain, especially, in our communities, districts and regional levels, within and across the country. The awards is made up of 15 categories, including: Passion for the Farm Awards, She-Innovates Award, Climate-Smart Women Project 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), The Change Champion Award, Lady of The Region Export Award, Development Partner Award, Princess Carla Award, Gold in the Soil Award, and She-Operate s Award.
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:
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.
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).
“He who craves greatness must consider the path trodden by the great.” This apt aphorism mirrors increased attempts by government to actively partner other nations, particularly those who are standout agric powerhouses.
Today, globalization has opened a window of opportunity for collaboration and partnerships that if properly harnessed, has the potential to significantly bridge the gapping dichotomy that currently exists between Ghana and other great agric nations.
This narrative was recently demonstrated when the Embassy of Brazil, Agrihouse Foundation and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture led a strong Ghanaian contingent to participate in the 26th edition of Agrishow in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil.
Led by the Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon. Sagre Bambangi and Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, the Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, the high-powered delegation comprised; Ghana Investment Promotion Council, Ghana Commodity Exchange, Jospong Group, Accra Company and Recycling and Ghana Commercial Agric Project.
As the showpiece wore on, the Ghanaian delegation had the opportunity to make an investment presentation to the world’s topmost agribusiness investors.
In a presentation under the theme: Investment Opportunities In The Agriculture Sector, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture espoused the mammoth opportunities available to investors in the form of lands for farming, government policy intervention, strategic areas for investment and incentives provided by government for investors in Ghana.
“With an estimated 13.5 million hectors of agricultural lands, only 50% has been cultivated; which implies that investors have access to almost seven million uncultivated lands to choose from. Of the 50% cultivated land, only 31,000, representing 2% has been irrigated and so irrigation presents a very viable option for investments.”
“ With an Agricultural Sector consisting of Crop, Livestock, Forestry/Logging and Fishing, crop dominates the sector with 74%, followed by Livestock; Forestry & Logging; and Fisheries at 10%; 9; and 6%, respectively as far as their contribution to GDP is concerned. Ghana provides the perfect environment for investors to thrive because aside being one of the most politically stable on the continent, Ghana has consistently demonstrated the political will and quality leadership necessary for the preservation of investor interests.”
The presentation also took into account Ghana’s excellent air and sea port facilities which makes traveling and transportation of goods and services in and outside the country a lot easier.
“Traveling time from Europe (6hrs) and America (9hrs) to Ghana is considerably shorter and therefore makes the fair as much as 60% cheaper than that of many countries on the continent and some other parts of the world. Ghana also has favourable agric and investment policies that safeguards the investor and guarantees profitability.
Similarly, government has tailored policies that gives investors in agric a period of exemption from taxes depending on what is being planted, tax waiver on imported items and upon expiration of these periods, a location based tax system is applied in order to give investors who go on to the hinterlands and hence further away from the capital and extra funds to offset the cost of doing business in such areas. Investors in Tree Planting and cattle ranching get a tax holiday of 10 years whereas Cash Crops, Poultry, Fish Farming and Agro-Processing get exempted from paying taxes for five years.”
The ministry further informed the gathering that companies in the Northern Part of Ghana which is one of the best places for rice farming comes with 5% income tax while companies in Greater Accra, the nation’s capital and Tema attracts 20% income tax.
“Regional capitals attract income tax of 15% and 10% for companies outside the regionals capitals. We also provide exemption of custom duties on agricultural machinery and agricultural inputs. These incentives are meant to ensure that the investor makes profit and expand the business because it is by so doing that jobs can be created for country’s teeming youth population. We have existing rice mills with installed capacity and available lands in the Accra plains conducive for rice production and presence of water for irrigation purposes and areas in the Northern part of Ghana.”
Ghana is the best destination for investors- GIPC
The Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) led by the Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Carl Nelson used the Agrishow Platform to show the rest of the world the competitive advantage Ghana offers investors and why it is the country of choice for investors.
In its Presentation, GIPC provided key statistics that underscores Ghana’s political stability.
“Ghana has a 27 year old sustained democracy, held five successful and peaceful elections and changed leadership from one political party to the other held five successful elections, three peaceful transitions and has a lower crime rate compared to most part of the continent.”
GIPC also took participants through the process of acquiring a business permit in Ghana.
“A Joint Venture with a Ghanaian partner required a minimum capital of Two Hundred Thousand Dollars minimum capital requirement, 100% foreign owned come with Five Hundred Thousand Dollars minimum capital whereas Trading Activity engaging a minimum of twenty skilled Ghanaians requires a minimum capital of one million dollars. Whereas other countries try to put limit on percentage of profit that can be repatriated, Ghana allows investors to repatriates 100% of their profit without any hindrance. These requirements and policy flexibilities makes Ghana one of the best investment destinations on the globe.”
GIPC and MoFA were part of 5 organizations that represented Ghana at this year’s Agrishow. To widen the scope of networking opportunities, a number of separate meetings were arranged for each Organisation by Agrihouse Foundation, the liaison organisation between Ghana and Brazil for the event.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture and GIPC met with: Foreign Trade Chambers Federation, Association of Cocoa Processing Industry, PERFARM, BNDES, ABAG, Banco do Brazil, Agtech, Agres and Silomas.
Most potential investors expressed interest in doing business in Ghana with concrete agreements reached to see the first batch of investors visit the country in June while a second group will follow in September this year.
Agrishow is the World’s third largest Agric trade event and arguably the most important agricultural technology trade show in the world. It brings together agricultural solutions for all types of agribusiness and related sector needs.
Agrihouse Foundation, Ghana’s leading pro-agric event firm served as the liaison organization between the Embassy of Brazil, Ghana and the organizers for the 2019 edition of Agrishow in partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
With over 800 national and international brands from different investment segments across the globe participating, the Ghanaian contingent had a unique opportunity to meet and create mutually beneficial partnership with peers along the value chain of agribusiness.
The global agric showpiece was a gathering of all who matter in agribusiness around the globe. It revolved around the goal of identifying new investment opportunities, groundbreaking technologies, partners and acquiring requisite knowledge to succeed.
The event highlighted the latest products, services and technology supporting the entire value chain in agribusiness and provided the Ghanaian delegation a pool of opportunities for networking and knowledge transfer.
The Ghanaian delegation comprised of persons drawn from: Government Agencies, Organisations, Investors, Poultry and Livestock, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Producers, Packaging and Processing, Producers, Inputs Dealers, ICT, Finance and individuals with interest in the industry.
The event provided a wonderful opportunity for the Ghanaian delegation particularly those looking to enhance their businesses through strategic partnerships, networking and exchange of ideas.
During the course of the four day event, the team participated in event activities like:
Field Trips and Demonstrations
Business Presentations and Investments
Business – to – Business Meetings
Formal Technical and Practical Training workshops and conferences
The 4-day event hosted over one hundred and sixty thousand visitors and is largely considered an improvement on the last edition which saw $808 million businesses initiated participants.
The host nation, Brazil is a major producer of a myriad of agricultural commodities like soya beans, maize, cotton, oranges and poultry meat- a feat achieved through exceptional national commitment to innovation and hard work.
Brazil’s transition from a country with an underdeveloped agricultural sector setting to one of the words breadbasket is an incredible feat that demonstrates how much of an impact a country can achieve through a deliberate effort to revolutionise agriculture.
While a national approach to agricultural excellence was key to getting the country this far, the country’s success is mostly attributable to the significant improvement in productivity made possible through the development of farming inputs relevant to the countries unique ecosystem.
Though the country’s arable landmass has remained unchanged since the mid 1970’s, production has soared by as much as 300% -a rate believed to be faster than that recorded by other agriculturally successful nations like the United States, Canada and Netherlands.
the value of imported food into the country stands at a whopping US $2.4
billion. Key products that are imported are frozen chicken, meat, and rice,
tomato paste, cooking oil, sugar and sorghum.
“At US$2.4 billion, the cost of food imports is about a quarter of the
value of non-oil imports, which closed 2017 at US$10.66 billion,” the Daily Graphic newspaper recently
huge amount of imports is a major concern and it has many unpremeditated
effects. Business people who import the food need foreign currency (usually US
dollars) to pay their suppliers abroad and this puts pressure on the local cedi
leading to volatilities. Paying for these suppliers abroad means farmers and
agro-business people in those foreign supplier countries stay in business and
create more jobs. But locally, our farmers cannot compete and are thrown out of
business. The recent dip in the value of the cedi is perfect example of the
negative implications of unbridled import.
the words of Henry Kerali, World Bank country director for Ghana, “Agriculture is an
important contributor to Ghana’s export earnings, and a major source of inputs
for the manufacturing sector. It is also a major source of income for a
majority of the population, but we have seen a recent reduction in growth in
agriculture, which needs to be reversed through appropriate policies and
call by the Mr. Kerali seems to have found the listening ears of no less an
entity than the central government.
demonstrated in the newly inaugurated Planting for Export and Rural Development
(PERD) programme which is expected enhance the country’s foreign exchange-earning
capacity and generate jobs.
According to President
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo the new programme will ensure that Ghana’s economic
fundamentals are restructured in the right shape.
Speaking at the launch of PERD, a module under the government’s Planting for
Food and Jobs programme, the President said his government will be committed to
developing a designated list of tree crops, all of which are grown in Ghana but
are currently non-traditional exports.
He further noted
that PERD, which is tailored towards increasing cultivation of foods such as
cashew nuts and mangoes, presents Ghana with opportunities for diversifying her
economy and will open up new revenue streams even as
the government the makes effort to
establish an institution to regulate tree crop development in the country.
“A draft bill for
the development of the tree crop sector will shortly be approved by cabinet,
prior to its submission to Parliament.
“The bill, when passed by Parliament, will establish the Tree Crop Development
Authority (TCDA). The proposed Authority will provide policy direction and
regulation for the development of the sector,” he assured.
Four crops are
covered in the draft law: cashew nuts, oil palm, rubber and shea. It is hoped
that two more will boost the final legislation and bring the total to six –
coconuts and coffee.
The Planting for
Export and Rural Development (PERD) Programme is a decentralized National Tree
Crop Programme to promote rural economic growth and improve household incomes
of rural farmers through the provision of certified improved seedlings,
extension services, business support and regulatory mechanisms.
To create a
legacy towards the realization of the Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda, the Government
of Ghana through the joint effort by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural
Development and Ministry of Food and Agriculture rolled out the PERD programme
to develop nine (9) commodity value chains namely Cashew, Coffee, Cotton
Coconut, Citrus, Oil Palm, Mango, Rubber and Shea through a decentralized system.
seeks to create sustainable raw material base to spur up the decentralized industrialization
drive through One District Factory initiative. The 5-year PERD programme will
support 1million farmers in 170 districts with certified free planting
materials to cover over one (1) million hectares of farmlands and engage 10,000
young graduates as crop specialized extension officers.
The President noted that aside from the benefit of a diversified revenue base
for Ghana, PERD will link agriculture to industry by providing a solid raw
material base for industrialization will also help develop rural economies and
support the structural transformation of the economy.
“The selection of
crops in each district depends upon the ecological zone,” he announced. “The
initial effort in preparation of the PERD has met with resounding success, with
the establishment of nurseries all over the country.
“In the initial years of the programme, a total of 32,591 hectares will be
planted with the tree crops in 191 districts.
have been displayed at this event today. The enthusiasm with which the district
chief executives have embraced the PERD is very commendable, and the intense
interest clearly indicates that leadership of the programme at the local level
He said with the
government having revamped agriculture, PERD will complement other flagship
policies and programmes such as One Village, One Dam, One District, One Factory
and One District, One Warehouse to provide a historical opportunity to change
the direction of agriculture in Ghana.
Other institutional measures such as the Ghana Commodity Exchange, the Ghana
Incentive-based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL) and a
refocusing of the mandate of the Agricultural Development Bank are being rolled
out to support the government’s transformation agenda, President Akufo-Addo
confidence that once all these initiatives are serving their purpose, his
government’s bold approach will be vindicated.
“The overarching vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid is not mere rhetoric, nor
political gimmickry. As a government, we are determined through action to
achieve this vision, and today’s programme is a clear indication of our genuine
According to a
2018 World Bank report dubbed “The Third Economic Update, Agriculture as an
Engine of Growth and Jobs Creation”, the agriculture sector’s potential to be
one of the leading sectors for a more diversified is clear as the light of day.
“The economy is
again rapidly expanding,” said Michael Geiger, World Bank senior economist and
co-author of the report. “There is need to channel public resources into
research to increase the use of technology, invest in irrigation infrastructure
to increase productivity and mitigate the potential adverse effects of climate
change, and leverage increased private sector investment in agriculture,”
the report notes, is the weak legal and regulatory framework for attracting
private sector investment into agriculture. According to the 2017 World Bank’s
Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) report , reforms are needed to improve
the quality and efficiency of regulatory systems that govern access to key
agricultural factors such as seed, fertilizer, machinery, finance, markets,
transport and information and communication technologies.
While the Planting
for Export and Rural Development (PERD) program is a step in the right direction,
the enthusiasm that was noticeable among key stakeholders during the launch
must not fizzle out any time soon. Indeed we expect government and other
relevant stakeholders to sustain the policy through practical input that are
relevant and responsive to 21st century dynamics. This way, we can
genuinely expect to reap the optimum dividends of what is clearly an ingenious
policy direction for Ghanaian agriculture.