The High Commissioner of Canada to Ghana and Sierra Leone, Her Excellency Madam Kati Csaba, has noted that through the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), Global Affairs Canada is continuously empowering women and girls to promote peace, equity and social justice.
She said reducing global poverty and vulnerabilities is at the heart of the efforts of Global Affairs Canada; and particularly, empowering women to realize their rights and economic potentials, goes a long way to benefit the whole society, in terms of sustainability and peace.
“For this reason, in Ghana, among other things, our team supports activities such as: agriculture initiatives that support women farmer-based organizations in post-production and processing; economic empowerment initiatives that support young women in non-traditional trades to help break bias; and gender-equality specific programming that helps women and girls realize their full human rights.”
She noted in a press statement ahead of this year’s 4th Women in Food and Agriculture Leadership Training Forum (WOFAGRIC) and Gold in the Soil Awards, annually organized by Agrihouse Foundation.
While praising Agrihouse Foundation and the forty-five (45) women farmers who have been nominated and documented for this year’s Gold in the Soil Awards, Madam Kati Csaba extended a special acknowledgement to the other seventeen (17) women farmers with disabilities, who will be receiving Honorary Awards, on Wednesday, June 22 and Thursday, June 23, at the Akroma Plaza Hotel in the Western Region, Takoradi.
“I want to commend these impressive women for showing that living with a disability does not hold them back from achieving their full potentials. They have taken their destiny into their own hands and have excelled in their farming activities”
In line with the theme for this year’s two-day event, “AGRIWOMAN: RECOVER- GROW- STAND OUT,” she said Canada is looking forward to an event that would empower the women farmers to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, and grow to become more resilient to future shocks. “I would love to see agribusinesses led by Ghanaian women exporting their products beyond the shores of Ghana and earning higher incomes,” she added.
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, from the Western and Western North region.
“Generally, we are satisfied with the balanced representation in the categories; as well as the number of women farmers and Agribusinesses represented in this year’s nominations,” Ms. Akosa Sarpong said.
She said Day one of the two-day event would consist of capacity-building, mentorship, training and empowerment sessions, which would be facilitated by resources people selected from this year’s list of sponsors and collaborating organization.
Resource persons from MAG-Canada will be leading a capacity-building session on the topic, “Agri-woman lifestyle, Total Wellbeing and brand building.” They will also lead one on on mentorship sessions on self-presentation and positive mental health – how agriwomen can make the most of mental health tips to enhance their personal growth and family life
Day two, which is the “Gold in the Soil Awards,” the event will Taward deserving small-scale women farmer who are thriving exceptionally with Gold in the Soil Awards. The awards, listed under fifteen categories include: Super Woman Farmer Award, She-Innovates Award, C-limate-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, 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.
About WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards
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.
Esi Akyere is eyeing the Diamond in the Rough Award and she believes strongly that she going to win it. Her 50-acre farm consist of cocoa, plantain, palm nut, yam, cocoyam, rice, maize, coconut, tomatoes, groundnut, rubber, goat, sheep and poultry.
Matcom Company – Yaa Sosu
62 year old Maa Yaa, stepped Up her Farm-game, from, being only a cassava farmer, to establishing a mini Gari Processing factory, in her community! Maa Yaa has through this created employment for over 15 young men in the community and over 25 young ladies who now serve as distributors! Maa Yaa’s Agribusiness Journey, of bringing hope and creating employment, has been captured in the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS DOCUMENTARY!
Climate Smart Women Project Award
Mary Perpetua Kwakuyi
Mary is an inspiration! Besides being a crop and vegetable Farmer, Mary has gone beyond to establish a Demonstration Centre in Ekma, Western Region, where she trains the youth in her community and other beginner Agribusinesses, on adopting climate smart strategies and approaches in farming.. Over 10,000 people have benefited from Mary’s weekly training sessions. Mary’s journey to becoming a Climate Smart Agriculture advocate and a farmer has been captured in the Gold in the Soil Awards Documentary!
Outstanding Woman in Extension Services Award
Eva’s passion and commitment towards women empowerment is palpable and evident in the ways she innovates and organizes training and capacity-building progams for the agriwomen she works with. As an Extension Service Officer, she goes beyond her expected responsibilities and shows up for her women farmers in tremendous ways, in spite of challenges. She shares her inspiring story in her Gold in the Soil Awards Documentary.
The Super Woman Farmer Award
52 year old, visually impaired Madam Rebecca’s strength and zeal, inspires us all! A maize, Cocoa and Plantain farmer, her ability to cultivate over 10 acres, with ease, needs to be studied and adopted! She will be receiving a ‘Special SuperWoman Award’, under the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARD Category. Her story has been captured in the Gold in the Soil documentary, on how she is enabling and supporting young women in her community, to adopt best practices, to be sustainable Farmers!
2. Joyce Asante
100% visually impaired Aunty Joyce’s farming strategies needs to be studied in Harvard, and her successes she has chalked as a Cocoa, cassava and maize farmer, needs tp be celebrated! She is a role model to women with disabilities in her community,many of whom have ventured into farming because of her. Her ‘strong-willed’ personality and how she is contributing to sustainable farming, has been captured in the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS DOCUMENTARY!
3. Joyce Quarteng
Madam Joyce found peace and happiness in the Soil, after she lost one of her legs!. She went into the nursing and sales of Cocoa seedlings, and gradually became a Cocoa farmer! Her journey, on how she balances her work, as a woman farmer with disability, has been captured in the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS DOCUMENTARY.
4. Rose Mensah
Madam Rose found peace and happiness in the Soil, after she lost one of her legs!. She went into the nursing and sales of Cocoa seedlings, and gradually became a Cocoa farmer! Her journey, on how she balances her work, as a woman farmer with disability, has been captured in the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS DOCUMENTARY.
5. Joyce Agyei Sakyiwaa
Auntie Joyce, as she is affectionately called describes agriculture as her lifesaver, in a society where most people with disability are stripped of their dignity. She says farming gives her hope because her efforts provide her income and has helped her establish a life she is proud of. In her GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS Documentary, she shares her successes, challenges and the need for more support for persons with disability.
6. Ophelia Ackah
Madam Ophelia owns 4 acres of Cocoa and palm nut farm. She recently expanded her business to include an oil processing factory, which is doing very well. She has been able to provide jobs for young people in her community. Her abilities, beyond her disabilities, as a woman farmer, has been captured in the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS DOCUMENTARY.
Star Woman Agripreneur Award
Rosemond Afua Afful
Rosemond’s zeal to ensure, she eliminates post losses, has led her to consciously grow a strong market network system, for her vegetables! She cultivates over 15 acres of vegetables, which she supplies to shops and malls within and outside the Western Region! Her determination to meet quality standards has been captured in the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS DOCUMENTARY!
Royal Agro Award
From Wasa Angu, in the Western Region, kindly meet the “ever-smily” 74years old Farmer and Queenmother; growing maize, Cocoa, yam and vegetables. Madam Ekua has been nominated for the ROYAL AGRO Award Category, under the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS! Her story of resilience and hope food security, has been captured in the Gold in the Soil documentary. Her passion for growth and her influence as a Royal, is encouraging young women around her to embrace sustainable farming.
Diamond in the Rough Award
Abena Asantewaa is truly a diamond in the rough who continues to shine on as a woman in agriculture. Residing in Akutuase in the Western region, the tenacious farmer cultivates a 22-acre farm of coco, plantain, garden eggs, tomatoes, maize, pepper, yam and cocoyam. She believes she the best person to win the Diamond in the Rough Award, and she shares why in her Documentary.
Feed to Food Awards
Edna Ama Mensah
Edna is a bold and beautiful Poultry Farmer, in the Western Region, with 1000s of broilers & layers! Her journey to becoming a Poultry Farmer is an amazing one! She is a born fighter and happy to be nominated for the FEED TO FOOD AWARD, under the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS CATEGORY! Her extraordinary story, has been documented, to be shared with you soon, to inspire, motivate & support tell the story of how our women farmers are growing community Agriculture.
The Change Champion Award
Marian Ofori Twumasi
Marian is a young rear visionary. Her dedication and passion for agribusiness permeates in everything she has been able to achieve since she venture into the sector, as a university student. Now at 34 years old, she runs a 200 acre farm consisting of an Oil palm plantation, cocoa plantation, coconut farm, maize farm, rice farm, cassava farm, plantain farm, and bee hives. The rest are palm oil processing, poultry feed processing, poultry farm, cattle farm, fish farm, snail farm, poultry feed shop, transportation, aggregation, tomatoes farm, citronella farm, 11 permanent employees, 100’s of casual workers. She truly an inspiration and great support to hundreds of young women in her community, in the Sefwi Nkronua Atifi district of the Western –North Region. Her story has been captured in the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS DOCUMENTARY!
Lady of the Region Export Award
Georgina Filson is soaring high as an agriwoman processor and exporter. Started with only a dream and courage, her commitment to her venture is now yielding incredible results and winning her awards. She shares her amazing journey with Agrihouse in her GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS Documentary.
Development Partner Award
Princess Carla Award
Talk of a community female superhero in Dompim community, and all hands will point to Aunt Monica. When her community needed part of her strategically located farmland, for a school project, she willingly donated part of the land to them and her effort, has earned the community, the Dompin 1 primary & JSS, getting more and more young people, to be enrolled in school. She presently owns 32 acres of maize, plantain, cassava, yam, coconut and coco yam. She also has a goat, sheep and Poultry farm. She has supported a number of youth to venture into farming, by providing them with Seeds and Soft loans. Her impactful story, of how is she making her community happy, and transforming livelihoods, has been captured in the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS DOCUMENTARY.
Gold in the soil Award
Evelyn continuously shoots for the stars because she believes women can rise above societal limitations. And every day she demonstrates that on her 128-acre farmer, cultivating crops like cocoa, plantain, rice, maize, palm nut, yam, and cocoyam, in addition to goats, sheep, and poultry. She is eyeing the ultimate Gold in the Soil Award, and in her Documentary she share with Agrihouse why she is deserving of the recognition.
On February 9, Ms. Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, Founder and Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation graciously sat down with the Trade Mission’s staff for a fascinating and enlightening discussion about her and Agrihouse’s story, the future of Ghanaian agriculture, and what opportunities Israeli Agri-tech holds for Ghanaian Agribusinesses.
Tell us a bit about Agrihouse Foundation, what do you do, what are your goals?
To sum it up I would say we do Interventional agric projects. We research and identify gaps in the agric value chain, and how we can come up with initiatives that would highlight some of these challenges, bring stakeholders together, and create solutions. At the end of the day, we are impact driven and we want to see growth, empowerment, and scale up within the sector.
You are well known within the sector in Ghana for your many events and projects and for your incredible drive. Have you always been in this sector, what is your own background and how did it happen that you have become the “prophetess” of Ghanaian agric?
I have a communications background, my desire, my passion, my ambition, my focus, was to become a journalist. I went to journalism school, I had no personal or professional background in agriculture, rather came upon the industry by chance. I used to manage a communications firm. As part of my career ambitions to be a journalist I was doing PR with this firm. As part of our strategy, we were looking at different sectors and realized that in the agric sector there was a gap in events and fairs – that sort of thing. We decided to come up with an exhibition, and that was my first exposure to the sector, which really became love at first sight.
I became intrigued by the sector and wanted to know more. At the time I didn’t really know much about the sector, but I could see that we had had an impact. From the feedback we were getting, I could see that people were networking, that people were growing. But I could also see that when it came to youth in agriculture, or when it came to women in agriculture, there was very little life, there was nothing happening for them. I understood that from my own experience being invited to agric conferences. I would attend these conferences and leave without knowing what was said, they were very technical and staid, and nothing that would be on the level of the people we actually wanted to reach. I wanted to take the industry to a place where youth could fit in, where they could envision having a role, where they could see opportunities for themselves. I wanted to take the industry to a place where women farmers have a voice and an impact. I wanted to take the industry to a place where smallholder farmers’ potential is realized, where we do better in creating solutions for them. Solutions in reducing post-harvest losses, in packaging, branding. When it comes to the value chain I wanted to break it down and make it more accessible and more successful for all these marginalized and dis-empowered farmers. These are the things that we wanted to address when we started Agrihouse Foundation.
So something like an empowered and higher capacity agriculture for the masses? Fascinating. So tell us how you have gone about achieving this vision so far.
Our first intervention was in training for youth. Through my work I had the opportunity to visit some of the agric colleges, and I realized that the lands that they used to have had been taken up by building, leaving no place for them to have practical training. Additionally, there was no business training. These gaps led us to start the AG-STUD boot camp, which brings students from agric colleges from all over the country together for a week. We bring them mentors and coaches to support the development of their business ideas, to help guide them in honing their ideas to be successful. In this program, we have been very successful in changing mindsets and the atmosphere. Without this program, there was an entrepreneurial lacking, a missing excitement and energy, even amongst these young adults who have chosen agricultural studies. With the Ag-STUD program, we have now managed to foster excitement, energy, and entrepreneurial spirit. They now have a better understanding of the business potential of the sector and a clearer idea of how they can go about leveraging on it after school. Through this boot camp and follow-up support services including seed capital, we have been able to facilitate the establishment of over 200 agribusinesses including vegetable farms, rice farms, pineapple farms, as well as processing and packaging businesses. One of the greatest things is that we have been able to get them to deepen their understanding of the full value chain, and to leverage their training and education to either look for jobs all along the value chain or to create their own successful jobs through agric startups and businesses that are taking into account the full value chain – its full potential as well as the all the various pain points.
Another project of ours looked to help people diversify in agric to new areas of potential. When people thought about agric they thought only about crops, they weren’t thinking about animal farming or fisheries. We came up with the “Livestock, Poultry, and Fisheries Training and Tradeshow”. As part of this event, we have training for people that want to go into things like piggery, mushrooms, snails, etc. as well as showcasing the animal agricultural value chain. For example, someone can understand the need for fish feed and what is involved, the processing equipment, the value chain, etc. Essentially this event impresses upon people the opportunities that lie in animal farming as well as provides the platform for networking, skills development, and trade needed for the development of these agric fields, also providing an advocacy platform.
Can you give us an example of a specific young farmer who came through your boot camp and what has become of his or her initiative?
Sure, there are so many to choose from. Let’s talk about James, he was a very young guy 16-17 years old, he came through the boot camp even though he was so young. He went through the program and became very excited and motivated. He decided on an idea and worked on it with our mentors, we gave him some seed capital, really just a very small amount, for him to start pineapple farming. Today, three years later, he has a successful farm, he has 5 acres of pineapple. This might not sound like a lot to you, but for him it is a huge success. For a young kid to realize there is opportunity in agriculture, to be motivated to go into the sector, to have the confidence, the skills, and the initial capital to venture into it, and to succeed in expanding and turning a profit – these are not the norm and they are real accomplishments. The really interesting thing that sets him apart is that he not only grows, but he is also processing pineapple juice – adding value and jobs to his business, he now employs people in his community and sells pineapple shoots to others. We didn’t give him so much, really just exposure to the opportunities, motivation, mentorship, and some seeds, fertilizer, and maybe 1000 GHS in seed money; not much but that is what makes a difference between a 20-year-old kid running a successful agribusiness employing people and creating value, or a 20-year-old kid just sitting around unemployed or migrating to the city to subsist on menial labor.
These are some great projects, and just some of your activities in the Agri sector development. You’re known for your energy and passion, you seem to work non-stop. What is the main driver for you, what is the primary motivator? Is it employment? Food security? Ghanaian economic development?
I think it is primarily to see Ghana build sustainable and economically lucrative farming. At the end of the day you can break it down to; making farmers happy. To see the smiles on farmers’ faces, to see their success and satisfaction as a result of one or two interventions that you have done, that as the result of some activity of yours he or she has been able to improve his or her practices, gain access to credit, gain access to equipment through cooperatives. You can see the agric sector transitioning from subsistence farming to sustainable, viable, lucrative agri-businesses, and you can see the collective impact as well as the individual impact on individual farmers’ lives. That is my satisfaction, to see a happy secure farmer.
You talk about changing the perception of agriculture from one that is old-fashioned, boring, rife with poverty and struggle, to one of agriculture being young, exciting, full of promise and future. What does this have to do with Israel?
To me, Israel has become synonymous with successful agriculture, with creating successful agric in the harshest conditions, to how agric has advanced, and how the impact is not only reflected within Israel itself but is global. So firstly, Israel is a model of success for Ghana.
Secondly, Israel with its many technologies, its know-how, its government, is a crucial partner for us at Agrihouse that can help us achieve our goals.
My personal encounter with Israel and the Economic Mission dates back to the Agritech Israel conference which was phenomenal, participating in trade delegations to Israel, and our ongoing relationship with the Israel Trade and Economic Mission and the Israeli Embassy. You see, it is one thing to read, it is such another thing to experience and to see with your eyes what agricultural innovation, agricultural entrepreneurship, and technology are capable of, so it is inspiring and motivating. It is also very useful to foster these relationships, to get to know so many great players in the Israeli agric ecosystem, who can be, and many already are, great partners in the development of lucrative and sustainable Ghanaian agriculture.
Yes, Israel does have an amazing agric story. Coming from a point, 100 years ago when it was thought that agriculture in Israel is near impossible and not feasible, to a time where Israel often has the highest per-acre yields in the world, the most efficient methods, and is a source for many of the world’s most exciting agricultural developments, that is all very inspiring. Besides being an inspiration, where does that meet and benefit Ghanaian Agric, on the ground? Can you give me some examples?
Yes, of course. There is a large Ghanaian-Israeli collaborative training farm that is training Ghanaian youth on advanced Israeli agriculture methods and greenhouse farming. In terms of business, we are getting more and more links every day. The Israel Economic Mission has been instrumental in facilitating these connections, even from the pre-harvest event that we did together, there have been several success stories of Ghanaian-Israeli agribusiness partnerships to come out from that recent event. These partnerships are impactful, and their impact is felt very quickly, because of their technology and expertise, they provide potential for quick, yet sustainable successes in agriculture, and have the potential to create great returns on investment for Ghanaian Agribusinesses. These are not things from a talk show, these are things we see happening on the ground.
On that note; you know the Ghanaian agriculture sector well, its challenges as well as its potential. You are also well versed in the Israeli Agricultural sector – its solutions and capabilities. Based on that, where do you think there is particularly strong business potential for implementation of Israeli solutions or Israeli-Ghanaian business partnerships?
Sure, one is training and demonstration centers. Sure, one is training and demonstration centers. There is already one great project like this, but there is so much potential to expand centers like this across other agric techniques and sub-sectors, as well as having centers like this across Ghana’s 16 regions.
Another is in irrigation solutions. The majority of farmers are just waiting for the rains before they start planting. That is a very sad and underperforming state of things. I think bringing irrigation solutions, training, finding ways to make these solutions accessible, hold huge potential.
Another is logistics and mechanization centers. I’ve been in areas where the farmers don’t even own wellington boots and are keen on renting them. I think if we created platforms, where simple, yet appropriate machinery, as well as training, is available it could be profitable and impactful.
Finally, I think there is a lot of potential in custom contract farming and finding solutions that create the platforms and make the technologies available to enable this. Many people from within and Ghana and abroad approach us and ask us to manage a farm for them or to help them set up farms. There is a gap in capacity that can be outsourced and contracted to agric entrepreneurs or investors. Investors who want to start a farm can have someone give their expertise and manage it for them. I myself have a cattle farm that someone is managing for me, and I just started a goat farm, but there is a real lacking in expertise or people with the capability to provide dependable management. This is another great business avenue with potential for Ghanaian-Israel partnerships.
At the end of the day, Israel is such a great partner, because they have proven that they are creative, resourceful, yet can improvise and know how to create success with little resources and under difficult conditions. They have clearly proven that over their history, and the solutions they offer reflect those strengths. I know there is a lot of mutually beneficial potential, that together with our friends from Israel we can grow Ghanaian agriculture to great things, to a great future, and a great impact on the entire country.
Source: Israel Trade and Economic Mission to Ghana
Ghanaian women continue to play significant roles in the country’s agricultural sector. Women in the sector contribute up to seventy percent of all agricultural production, marketing and processing, mostly combining these responsibilities with raising a family and meeting other social and cultural expectations.
It is however, no secret that Ghanaian women in agriculture are also faced with several challenges, in spite of their contributions. Challenges involving lack of ownership and limited access to productive and arable land, low literacy rates, lack of access to information, low participation in agricultural governance, poverty and insufficient access to credit facilities.
Agrihouse Foundation remains one of the few non-governmental organizations in the country, working closely with women farmers and other value chain partners to address the challenges of these hardworking women across the country. With projects like the Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Forum and Gold in the Soil Awards (Wofagric); the Monthly Agri-Woman Market Place; and the 1 household, 1 Garden Initiative (1h,1g), Agrihouse Foundation continues to train and build the capacity of women farmers to enable them scale up their agribusinesses. Example, over 25% of women who have participated in the Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Forum and Gold in the Soil Awards are now thriving as agribusiness owners because of the agribusiness management training they receive during the event.
Since 2019, the two-part event has awarded about 300 women who excel exceptionally as farmers and have taken up leadership roles within their communities and regions, as aggregators, NGO Founders, Women Farmer Organization leaders, among others. In 2021, about 50% of women farmers recorded at the event manage 10 to 65 acres of farmland, and are between the ages 25-65years, with a number of them being women farmers with a physical challenge.
The Monthly Agri-Woman Market Place Initiative has since last year, supported and empowered women led agribusinesses by creating an engaging platform that helps them to network, exhibit and sell their produces as a way of helping them to recover fully from the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 200 women farmers and women-led agribusinesses have so far benefited from event, which also offers them opportunity to share knowledge and build their capacity through inspirational and empowerment dialogues.
The 1 household, 1 Garden Initiative (1h, 1g), has empowered about 100 households to become more self-reliant and conscious about food security, and the importance of home cooked meals. As part of the initiative, households are freely provided with 12 assorted vegetable seedlings, manure, garden tools, treated soil, Training Manual, garden structures, and given the needed support and gardening manuals to help them establish their garden and manage it. Early last month, to start the 2022 New Year, the Agrihouse Foundation team, was in Bamvim, in the Northern Region to train and support 100 women in the community to set-up backyard gardens. The team intends to expand the project to other parts of the region later this year.
Even with all these initiatives aimed at lessening the burdens of women in agriculture, whiles empowering them to build their capacity, more challenges still persist. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in year 2019 and 2020, Agrihouse Foundation undertook a research initiative that assessed how the pandemic was affecting the agricultural activities of the women farmers. Generally, they noted that the pandemic had heighted the already existing challenges in the following key areas: transportation, marketing and sales, education, self-reliance and food security assurance, and limited access.
Challenges Confronting Ghanaian Women in Agriculture
Transportation: A 44-year-old chief district farmer from the Sekyere Central District, in the Ashanti Region, Madam Ohemaa Akyaa representing about 1,700 women in cocoa and maize farming, noted the COVID-19 spread has affected their transportation system, and now causing them to sell produce at no cost at all, to avoid losses. The situation has also affected the accessibility of inputs for farming. Already, they have been facing challenges of little or no access to finance to farming, and it is affecting their entire livelihoods.
Innovative marketing or new sales approaches: Aunty Ekua Atta, 57 years, also representing a select group of about 870 women farmers in mixed cropping in the Gomoa West District Assembly, emphasized an increasing need for support in training on new markets accessibility approaches and innovative ways of selling, leadership and financial management, training on modern technology, best practices, cooperative structure development, mentorship and training in maintaining food production in crisis.
Education: Also, Madam Asabea, 62 years, representing 647 women cooperatives in cocoa and cashew in the Goaso Municipal and Ahafo region, shared the challenges family farmers are facing since the lockdown of schools, which has brought school feeding to a halt. She highlighted the need for more education on social distancing for farmers during this crisis and provision of PEs, capital for production and farming inputs.
Skilled training for self-reliance & food security assurance: Again, about thirty-two (32) young female student Agronomists and agripreneurs, currently unemployed, spoke of the challenges they are facing to afford a day’s meal and the call for skilled training to support and be useful to their communities, during this time of crisis.
Limited access to markets: About 500 women Smallholder farmers and processors (the majority in rice parboiling, shea, baobab and Neem) from Bolgatanga, Wa, Tamale and the Brong Ahafo regions of Ghana have always expressed the need for assistance to access ready markets indicating the challenge is not limited to a particular geographical location.
FDA Certification: Some farmers who are making attempts to add value to their products before selling need to acquire certification from the Foods and Drugs Authority. They lamented about the bureaucracy of the process and the stress involved when they have to certify their processed goods. According to them, wach product from a company/entrepreneur will need to be certified separately thus increasing the cost one needs to get the certification. Though some admitted agencies like the NBSSI have been helpful the cost and processes involved in getting a product certified remain a challenge.
‘Gathering of the Royals’ to Develop Sustainable Farmers
To be considered sustainable, agriculture needs to integrate social, environmental, and economic interests. The goals of sustainable agriculture are; to help provide enough food for everyone, bring communities out of poverty and provide an enhanced quality of life for farming families, and utilize farming methods that promote soil health and reduce reliance on fossil fuels for environmental sustainability. The following are some advantages of sustainable farming:
Healthier food: Food produced by sustainable farming methods has more nutrients in it as it avoids dangerous chemical and pesticides. Crop rotation also guarantees more nutrients in fruits and vegetables while livestock farmers raise animals in a humane way without any dangerous practices such as the use of growth hormones and non-therapeutic antibiotics. Thus, the meat is safe for consumers. The food also tastes better.
Building and maintaining healthy soil: Sustainable agriculture’s focus on building and maintaining healthy soil is therefore a critical component in securing the viability of food systems worldwide. Practices recommended for building and sustaining healthy soil include planting diverse crops; reducing or eliminating tilling that can disrupt and loosen soil; and never leaving fields bear with exposed soil, which has the effect of lowering nutrient availability and allowing dry soil to blow away as dust in the wind.
Safeguarding biodiversity: Sustainable farming, embraces a diversity of plants and animal species both on-farm and off-farm in order to help produce and promote healthier foods. Hedgerows can bring non-crop vegetation into fields, creating habitats for pest predators and pollinators. Agroforestry practices can allow native trees to coexist with crops like coffee that prefer shade. Sustainable farms can be places where biodiversity thrives, sometimes successfully coexisting with adjacent wildlands, while supporting sustainable diets based on locally sourced foods.
Reduce pollution and use of chemicals: Sustainable farming reduces pollution by using natural fertilizers and using fewer chemicals. This means that farm produce is healthier and better for you. Sustainable farming incorporates integrated pest management to identify pests in the initial stages and target spraying only for particular pests limited to a particular area. This way it does not affect the bio-diversity and protects the natural wildlife.
Sustainable communities: An important aspect of sustainable farming is that it remains economically viable for farmers, farm workers, and others who are employed in the food system so that they make a liveable wage and work in a safe environment. Sustainable farming encourages the resurgence of smaller family-run farms that strengthen the rural community which benefits everyone.
‘Gathering of the Royals’ Set for Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 22
In a press statement, Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa Sarpong, has noted that the maiden edition of ‘Gathering of the Royals’ is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, February 22, 2022, at the GNAT Conference Hall, in Accra. The event will bring together fifty (50) queen mothers, together with representatives from Academia, policy, Government, development agencies and Agric institutions, to explore further opportunities within the agric sector, as well as conflict resolutions alternatives towards Peace-building, and the development of sustainable farmers in the country.
According to Ms. Akosa Sarpong, GATHERING OF THE ROYALS is a much-needed intervention that will contribute significantly to policy direction assist in structuring appropriate approaches, practices, systems and innovations for a sustained agricultural value and growth, from the community level to the top level. As part of the half-day event, there will be a Panel Conversation, with a thematic focus on Working Together: Role of Royals and the Corporate in accelerating Agri-Peace and Developing Sustainable farmers.
The Panelists for the session will include Nana Odeatwon II, Divisional queen-mother, Ketekrachie- Oti Region, Portia Asumda, Leader of Kosanaba Women Farmers & Processors Group, Bawku West, Upper East Region, Nana Akua Amoah II, Tuobodom Queen-Mother, Bono east and Ayisheitu Nahanadu Asaki, Queen-mother of Zebilla, Bawku west District. Others include Nana Akosua Bempomah, District chief farmer, Sekyere-kumawu – Ashanti Region, Mama Dzitri Novuiango II, Divisional Queen-mother of Nkonya Tradional area.
There will also be a Contributors session, which will have key industry leaders and decision-makers, like the Hon. Member of Parliament for the Klottey Korle Constituency, Hon. Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, leading a Call-to-Action session, which will guide and build the working path and manual for Royals and Agricultural businesses. Other notable personalities including the Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon. Yaw Frimpong Addo; the Members of Parliament for Abirem, Hon. John Osei Frimpong; corporate sponsors of the event and collaborating institutions, will all make inputs, aimed at informing Policy direction in favour of women farmers and development activities.
“We are positive by the end of the event, we would have contributed to creating sustainable working relationships, that strengthen collaborative efforts between our corporate bodies, stakeholders and traditional leaderships,” Ms. Akosa Sarpong noted.
The role of traditional leadership is an integral aspect of the Ghanaian culture. In Ghana, traditional leaders have for years worked with local government to enhance peace and security and development in their respective districts and communities, as part of contributing to national development.
Chiefs and queen mothers are, in fact, regarded fathers and mothers of their communities; and in this light, are bestowed a number of responsibilities aimed at guiding them to provide social, economic, and cultural empowerment. Responsibilities including presiding over traditional councils to maintain peace, law and order and stimulate community development, formulating general proposals to offer advice to local governments, coordinating developmental plans and initiatives for their communities, and encouraging the payment of tax and levies.
Others include, helping to determine religious matters and give full support to Arts and Culture. They control traditional titles and offices; determine customary laws and practices; and help to accelerate the task of mass mobilization and participation of the people in community development programmes of their respective communities. Importantly, they serve as important links between their communities and the government, while serving advisory and advocacy roles.
The Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs (MCRA) has the constitutional mandate to develop effective interface between Government, Religious Bodies and Civil Society on matters relating to Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs for the promotion of peace and good governance. MCRA also operate as the primary and apex body to initiate and formulate appropriate policies for the Chieftaincy and Religious sectors of the country. The Ministry aims to preserve, sustain and integrate the regal, traditional and religious values, norms and practices for national development. Core values including Sovereignty of Traditional Values, Peaceful Religious and Traditional Co-existence, Cultural diversity, Tolerance and Unity, underpin the work of the Ministry.
Aligning with these values, Agrihouse Foundation is also set to host the maiden edition of “Gathering of the Royals,” as a standalone event. For the past three years, Gathering of the Royals has been organized as a part of the Women in Food and Agric Leadership Training Forum and the Gold in the Soil Awards, which has since 2019 been empowering women farmers to develop their agricultural skills; motivating mentoring and helping them build on their capabilities as women in agriculture. The first edition was held in the Volta Region; the second in the Ashanti Region and the third in the Upper East Region.
This year, the fourth and independent edition of the event, has been scheduled to take place in the Greater Accra Region, on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, at the GNAT Conference Hall, on the theme, “The Role of Royals in Accelerating Agri-Peace and Developing Sustainable Farmers,” with special focus on the work of Queen Mothers, in relations to farming and agriculture in their regions, districts and communities.
The title of “queen mother” indeed relays a rank of authority within Ghanaians traditional community. Queen Mothers are responsible for designating the next chief, providing wise counsel to the chief and his elders, rallying all women together, and keeping an eye on the social conditions within the society. Queen mothers are selected from the royal family of each town and village. It is the head of the royal family and the elders who choose both the chief and the queen mother, a pair that might be related to one another.Today, Queen mothers are adapting to the changing world and the position has remained vital.
To better serve as agents of empowerment who are contributing significantly to social and economic changes in their communities, queen mothers are continuously reexamining their roles and are exploring more development and partnership opportunities to attain their goals. They are starting businesses, non-governmental organizations and heading various projects and initiatives in their districts and communities, which are contributing positively to the lives of their people.
In line with these developments, Agrihouse Foundation is bringing together fifty (50) queen mothers, with representatives also from Academia, policy, Government, development agencies and Agric institutions, to explore further opportunities within the agric sector, as well as conflict resolutions alternatives towards Peace-building, and the development of sustainable farmers in the country. Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Ms. Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa Sarpong, has described the event, ‘GATHERING OF THE ROYALS,’ as a much-needed intervention, that will contribute significantly to policy direction and structuring of innovative Agricultural systems and approaches.
She said the event is aimed at making room for royals and corporate leaders, to digest issues pertaining to food security and self-sufficiency, which can help to stabilize and sustain farmers at the community levels. “We are positive by the end of the meeting, dialogues and conversations, we would have contributed to creating sustainable working relationships that strengthen collaborative efforts between our corporate bodies, stakeholders and traditional leaderships,” she has noted in a press release.
According to the Executive Director, the queen mothers will engage in an interrupted panel conversation to discuss major concerns hindering the growth and sustainability of women farmers in their districts and communities. They will touch on concerns such as access to funds and ready market; warehouse and storage facilities, cost of transportation at supply and delivery points, Fulani Herdsmen, and Elephant Invasion, Illegal Small scale – farming, FDA certification, child trafficking and child labour, among others, siting case studies of developmental projects and interventions they are spearheading in their districts and communities.
A strong case study is in Manya Krobo in the Eastern region, where queen mothers have started the Manya Krobo Queen Mothers Association (MKQMA) in order to help children who have been orphaned because of HIV and AIDS. The group was started by Nana Okleyo. Studies of the association’s work in the Manya Krobo District shows that it was a good model of how to address the issue of orphans in Ghana and West Africa. There are approximately 370 queen mothers involved in MKQMA. In addition, the MKQMA, under the leadership of Manye Esther, has developed HIV/AIDS prevention programs and helped support more than 400 orphans.
Another case study, recently published in Thomson Reuter Foundation, reveals some 10,000 Queen Mothers in Ghana are supporting and empowering their communities by bringing social and economic changes to women and children across the country. According to the article, in the Lawra Traditional Area in the upper western corner of Ghana, Queen Mothers are very influential at grassroots level, “especially among women,” says Dogkudome Tegzuylle I, a midwife in Lawra town and the Pognaa (Queen Mother) of Lyssah. To support themselves as women, the Queen Mothers have created small income-generating projects based on their community’s natural resources, such as shea butter. They have initiated soap making, beekeeping and hairdressing groups, as well as informal savings and loan clubs.
More of such relevant positive socio-economic impacts will be highlighted among the eight queen mothers from Bono East, West-North, Ashanti, Eastern, Western, Oti, Upper East, Upper West and Greater Accra region, who will be partiicpanting in the Panel Conversation expected to take place at the event, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa Sarpong, has noted.
The panel conversation is expected to create room for the queen mothers to elaborate on Agricultural development initiatives they are championing in their various clans and districts. The challenges and modules that are proving successful and how working with relevant stakeholders can add to the social and economic impacts they are making in their regions, districts and communities. They are expected to touch on concerns such as; inappropriate farming methods and practices and it effect on growth, access to funds, ready market; warehouse, storage facilities, cost of transportation at supply and delivery points.
They will also touch on issues relating to Fulani Herdsmen, Elephant Invasion, Illegal Small scale – farming, child trafficking, lands, child labour, FDA certification, operations of Agric input dealers, machinery and equipment, Irrigation systems, over reiliance on rains and other related issues, influencing resilience building and stability of farmers and farming activities. The event will also allow for feedback and input from present participants on solution-oriented measures that can positively influence Agricultural growth, enhance livelihoods and contribute to food security within their respective communities.
“At the end of the event, we are expecting to have come-up with workable solutions and built a closer working relationship between traditional authorities, corporate bodies, Academia, development partners, Government agencies, among others. We believe, we would have also assisted to project ground issues, that could direct and inform policy,” Alberta emphasized.
She said the event presents an opportunity for Traditional leaders to work closely with governments, businesses, development partners, academia and civil society to galvanize sound policies, actions and leadership that will enable transformations required to create inclusive, resilient and sustainable agriculture and food systems that deliver for people, planet and prosperity.
The event further creates an atmosphere for productive and healthy conversations to take place, among traditional leaders, selected parliamentarians, development partners and the corporative institutions, to ignite collaborations in strategic areas for high impacts, and provide practical, realistic and achievable solutions for Peace and Agri-development,” she emphasized.
It is also expected to highlight the wealth of our natural resources, the large, young and growing Agri-population; the potentials and the right opportunities for Agri-business growth and development, whiles drilling down into the key issues, with case studies focusing on our Regional Agricultural strengths and serve as a networking opportunity for agric stakeholders, whiles celebrating the many dynamic efforts of our traditional leaders.
The Gathering of Royals event has over the last 3 years, been held as part of the Women in Food and Agric Leadership Training Forum and the Gold in the Soil Awards, which is annually sponsored by the Canadian High Commission, Yara Ghana, ABSA, OCP and RDF Ghana LBG. “The 1st was held in the Volta Region, 2nd in the Ashanti Region and 3rd in the Upper East Region. It is being held as an independent event, for the 4th time, here in the Greater Accra Region,” she said.
Touching on the need for partnerships in support of such relevant initiatives, Ms. Alberta Nana Aykaa Akosa Sarpong, has noted that investing in the country’s agric sector is an practical way of creating sustainable wealth for families and communities. She has therefore called on corporate organisations, government agencies, civic society organizations, financial institutions, among others, to continue supporting Agrihouse Foundation, as the organization aims to influence the country’s agricultural sector positively by initiating projects and events that educate, train and build the capacity of farmers and all value chain actors in the country.
Fifty (50) queen mothers, together with representatives from Academia, policy, Government, development agencies and Agric institutions, will be converging at the GNAT Conference Hall – Accra, to explore further opportunities within the agric sector, as well as conflict resolutions alternatives towards Peace-building, and the development of sustainable farmers in the country.
An initiative of Agrihouse Foundation, the developmental-Influencing event, which has been scheduled for Tuesday, Feburary 22, 2022, is on the theme, “The Role of Royals in Accelerating Agri-Peace and Developing Sustainable Farmers”.
In a press statement, the Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Ms. Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa Sarpong, described GATHERING OF THE ROYALS, as a much-needed intervention, that will contribute significantly to policy direction, assist in structuring appropriate approaches, practices, systems and innovations for a sustained agricultural value and growth, from the community level to the top level.
She said, the focused interractive event, will also make room for royals, traditional authorities, community leaders and corporate leaders, to digest issues pertaining to food security and self-sufficiency, which can further help to stabilize and sustain farmers at the community levels.
“We are positive by the end of the event, we would have contributed to creating a sustainable working relationships, that strengthen collaborative efforts between our corporate bodies, stakeholders and traditional leaderships,” she said.
As part of the half-day event, there will be a Panel conversation, which will see eight (8) queen-mothers from Bono East, West-North, Ashanti, Eastern, Western, Oti, Upper East, Upper West and Greater Accra region, elaborate on Agricultural development initiatives they are championing in their various clans and districts. The challenges and modules that are proving successful and how working with relevant stakeholders can add to the social and economic impacts they are making in their regions, districts and communities.
The Queen Mothers will have an interrupted session to discuss major concerns hindering the growth and sustainability of women farmers in their districts and communities. They are expected to touch on concerns such as; inappropriate farming methods and practices and it effect on growth, access to funds, ready market; warehouse, storage facilities, cost of transportation at supply and delivery points.
They will also touch on issues relating to Fulani Herdsmen, Elephant Invasion, Illegal Small scale – farming, child trafficking, lands, child labour, FDA certification, operations of Agric input dealers, machinery and equipment, Irrigation systems, over reiliance on rains and other related issues, influencing resilience building and stability of farmers and farming activities.
The event will also allow for feedback and input from present participants on solution-oriented measures that can positively influence Agricultural growth, enhance livelihoods and contribute to food security within their respective communities.
“At the end of the event, we are expecting to have come-up with workable solutions and built a closer working relationship between traditional authorities, corporate bodies, Academia, development partners, Government agencies, among others. We believe, we would have also assisted to project ground issues, that could direct and inform policy, Alberta emphasized.
The Royals presents an opportunity for Traditional leaders to work closely with governments, businesses, development partners, academia and civil society to galvanize sound policies, actions and leadership that will enable transformations required to create inclusive, resilient and sustainable agriculture and food systems that deliver for people, planet and prosperity.
The event creates an atmosphere for productive and healthy conversations to take place, among traditional leaders, selected parliamentarians, development partners and the corporative institutions, to ignite collaborations in strategic areas for high impacts, and provide practical, realistic and achievable solutions for Peace and Agri-development,” she emphasized.
It is also expected to highlight the wealth of our natural resources, the large, young and growing Agri-population; the potentials and the right opportunities for Agri-business growth and development, whiles drilling down into the key issues, with case studies focusing on our Regional Agricultural strengths and serve as a networking opportunity for agric stakeholders, whiles celebrating the many dynamic efforts of our traditional leaders.
The Gathering of Royals event has over the last 3 years, been held as part of the Women in Food and Agric Leadership Training Forum and the Gold in the Soil Awards, which is annually sponsored by the Canadian High Commission, Yara Ghana, ABSA, OCP and RDF Ghana LBG.
The 1st was held in the Volta Region, 2nd in the Ashanti Region and 3rd in the Upper East Region.
It is being held as an independent event, for the 4th time, here in the Greater Accra Region.