This year Agrihouse Foundation will be guided by the theme, “Our Year of Working Smart to Strengthen our Impact on Farmers and Value Chain Actors,” Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa Sarpong, has state.
According to the Executive Director, among other objectives, the theme is expected to guide Agrihouse to strengthen its existing relationships with its stakeholders; establish new relationships that will enable the team accomplish more socio-economic impacts within the country’s agricultural value chain, this year.
“Working smart also means doubling our efforts; using all available channels to better tell our impact stories; scale up in areas where we are lacking, while driving new initiatives and building bridges to close existing gabs within the agricultural sector,” she said.
In the past seven years, Agrihouse Foundation has been at the forefront of promoting and changing the negative perceptions surrounding agriculture, through tactical programs and initiatives for students, women, farmers, farming associations, agribusinesses and the entire actors within the value chain.
The interventional projects and events focus on empowerment, grooming, leadership, best practices, and management training programs that lead to effecting positive changes in the minds, field, and economic status of stakeholders, and in the communities in which the organization operates. Agrihouse foundation further undertakes agri-focused exhibitions, trade promotions, research and communications, concept development and investor relations.
“The goal is to driving and shape the Agricultural conversations in Ghana and beyond. We have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the agric. sector, media overview and its dynamics,” Alberta noted in an interview.
She said the Foundation desires to create focused platforms, dedicated to increasing innovation, communication, advocacy, and initiate highly impactful agriculture projects that cut across all sex and acts: men, women, students, farmers, governments.
“The Foundation works in close collaboration with its sister company, Agrihouse Communications,” she revealed, “We derive satisfaction in making agriculture lively, exciting and competitive. Our dedication to agriculture is our fuel and we are excited to see people involved and committed to the projects we bring to life,” she said. The team at Agrihouse Foundation, with a combined experience of thirty years, is passionate about initiating and driving projects that address issues and challenges in the agriculture sector. These projects include the following:
Agricultural Students’ Career Guidance & Mentorship Dialogue Bootcamp (AG-STUD): this practical beginner Agribusiness initiative is designed to develop agric students, beginner agribusinesses and start- up’ expertise, while exposing them to the dynamics of the market, through education and leadership programs essential for achieving success in agriculture and agribusiness. In the past four years, AG-STUD-AFRICA, has benefitted over 1000 agribusiness students and beginner agribusinesses develop strong and bankable business plans. The bootcamp has empowered over 500 students from 30 different schools have with entrepreneurship skills, and supported them with start-up capital to start their agri-businesses; about 250 beginner agribusinesses have been established by students who have participated in AG-STUD. This year, AG-STUD is expected to come off from March 28 to April 1.
Livestock Poultry & Fisheries Trade Show (LiPF): The tradeshow aims to ensure all facets of the agricultural sector, including animal agricultural production, receive equal attention and resources. The annual event offers participants the opportunity to exhibit their products and services, engage in panel discussions and dialogues and go through training sessions, such as Livestock Training Session • Piggery Training Session• Rabbit Training Session • Cattle Training Session • Fisheries & Aquaculture Training Session • Grasscutters Training Session • Snail Training Session. Since the first edition, LiPF has engaged over 50,000 sub holder farmers with a significant percentage of them expressing interest in animal agriculture. Feedback received from the previous editions reveal that 87% of participants are very impressed with the event and want more training in poultry, piggery, rabbit, cattle, and piggery farm; 90% say that LiPF is a perfect introductory training platform for people who want to venture in animal agricultural production. This year, the two-day event has been scheduled to come off from May 5 to May 6.
Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Forum (WOFAGRIC) and Gold in the Soil Awards:this project was designed and first implemented in 2019 by Agrihouse to enable women develop their agricultural skills, motivate, mentor and build upon their capabilities to becoming independent. WOFAGRIC, over the past years has helped shape and build more professionals in the field of agriculture, importantly, has been a source of women empowerment. The two-part project has over the years acknowledged the industriousness of women in agriculture by awarding them through the Gold in the Soil Awards. This awards scheme goes a long run to motivate other women to venture into the fields of agriculture business. 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.
About 7 of them won laurels at the district and regional levels whist 2 of them picked up awards at the National awards. Over 25% of participants are now thriving as agribusiness owners because of the agribusiness management training they receive during the events. Most of the women have taken up leadership roles within their 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 disability. This year, WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards is scheduled to come off from June 22 to June 23.
Annual Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions:the Annual Pre-harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions is the only project that was handed down to Agrihouse Foundation by USAID, as part of the organizations exiting strategy. The event has become one of the leading and highly impactful interventional market linkage events on the Ghanaian Agribusiness calendar, providing long-term market development opportunities for farmers and agribusinesses. The award-winning market-linkage platform promotes business partnerships among value chain actors, especially farmers, buyers, processors, government, Development partners, transporters, input dealers, civil society, equipment dealers, financial institutions, telecom companies and policy makers.
Pre-harvest culminates with conferencing events, presentations, exhibitions and market place for business-to-business meeting. It also serves as a dynamic platform for farmers to negotiate and seal contracts, and seeks to strengthen the capacity of Farmer Based Organizations (FBO’s), Aggregators, Processors and value chain actors for them to play a key role as agricultural market actors. It further assists farmers and agribusinesses to expand their businesses before and after harvesting. The three-day event will come off from October 5 to October 7.
1 household, 1 Garden Initiative (1h,1g):The 1 household, 1 garden is an initiative collaterally intended to further scaleup government’s ongoing efforts to support families and communities to be more self-reliant, while its core objective is to provide Ghanaians a simple and easily accessible source of augmenting their daily food need without often stepping out beyond their homes.The 1household, 1 garden initiative essentially aims at triggering a wave of self-sufficiency and enhanced nutrition through the ignition of interest in home gardening, in the wake of COVID-19, to mitigate the effects of food accessibility. The hope is this national home gardening agenda will ensure a liberal supply of quality food to Ghanaians, while waiting for Covid-19 to decline. Thus, Agrihouse assists households set up a home vegetable garden, provide training, seedlings of 12 assorted vegetables, fertilizers and gardening tools, and also provide some level of supervision to interested households.
International Farmers and Agribusiness Resilience and Sustainability Convention (INTAFAC): INTAFAC seeks to bring together Farmers and the members of the Agribusiness sector to influence transformation; with focus on public-private partnerships, investment opportunities, significantly raise the bar and create an action-driven blueprint towards further agricultural development in the country. INTAFAC will set a stage for open and informed dissuasions and debates on major social, human and environmental obstacles that hinders the development of a buoyant Agri-economic, market resilience and self-sustainable Agri- institution.
The convention will engage Agri-leaders, players and experts from government; Farmer based Organizations, development partners, Finance, businesses, technology, academia and actors. They will share their knowledge and expertise on how the agricultural sector in Ghana can begin to focus, develop and adopt strategies, policies, and techniques, that will positively impact and scale up efforts, in building a sustainable, commercially viable and all-inclusive Agricultural sector. The event is expected to come off in March.
The Agri-Woman Marketplace: the marketplace seeks to support women Agribusinesses recover, grow and promote their farm produce, products and services. It provides free exhibitions and marketing space for the women to sell and promote their products and services, whiles opening up their access to markets. Fully sponsored by Agrihouse Foundation, the initiative empowers women led agribusinesses, 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 the agri-woman marketplace event, which also offers opportunity for knowledge sharing and capacity-building dialogues. The event has created networking opportunities for agri-women in areas such as farming, processing, packaging, marketing, IT service providers among others. This has led to increase in their sales, with a number of them securing major deals with local and international companies that purchase raw and semi-processed agricultural produce. The event is expected to resume at the forecourts of Agrihouse Foundation, in March, this year.
AgriWatchgh News Portal and Mobile App:AgriWatchgh: AgriWatchgh is a agric-focused news portal and a bi-weekly newsletter platform of Agrihouse Foundation that updates stakeholders with agricultural news, issues, and trends regionally, nationally and globally. You can access to relevant and timely agric news at www.agriwatchgh.com. AgriWatchgh News Portal was initiated in the early months of 2019, at the height of the COVID-19 epidemic, when the Foundation noticed the dire socio-economic implications the spread of the virus was having on the agricultural sector, in the country and beyond. A year down the line, AgriWatchgh New Portal has become a fast growing, prominent news website, among Ghanaians and international stakeholders.
AgriWatch News App: The fast growing visibility and general acceptance of AgriWatch News Portal necessitated the design and implementation of the mobile news App, ‘AgriWatch News App’ makes accessing news on ‘AgricWatch News Portal,’ easier and more convenient for readers. The mobile ‘AgriWatch News App.’ is on the Google Play Store. With these relevant and trustworthy news platforms, the Foundation seeks to continue expanding it communications portfolio and make agriculture-related news more related, exciting and friendly to all Ghanaians and agri-stakeholders across the globe.
This is the sister company of Agrihouse Foundation, with personnel’s who have vast knowledge in Ghana’s agric sector. This background makes Agrihouse Communications preferred corporate organization serving the agric sector as well as for the entire sectoral stakeholders. With our practical and experiential Public Relations expertise, Media Relations and proven Events Management, our company remains high on the list in this special niche. Agri-comms provides a broad range of communication service packages designed to deliver the best communication derived successes to our clients, ranging from media relations, social media or digital communication, public relations, new media and result oriented events.
Our Gratitude to Sponsors, Partners and Beneficiaries
Expressing her gratitude, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa Sarpong, noted that Agrihouse Foundation has never been alone on this journey of driving social and economic impacts and sustainability within the country’s agricultural sector. She therefore extended her immense gratitude to all corporate organizations and sponsors, organizing partners and collaborating institutions, stakeholders and beneficiaries who have for years committed to the growth and sustainability of the interventional initiatives designed and implemented by Agrious Foundation. “This year we are going to work smarter,” she reiterated, “the team is set to scale up on our initiatives to make more impacts in the lives of farmers and all other actors within the value chain.”
Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa has reiterated the need for improved agri-financing, knowledge sharing, and building resilience within the country’s agric sector.
She said, such efforts, when invested in and scaled up would enable the creation and sustainability of an effective agri-foods market, that will serve the country efficiently, beyond the pandemic.
In light of this year’s theme for the 3-days event, “Working Together to Improve Market Channels for Agri-foods Beyond the Pandemic,” she has urged government and private stockholders within the sector to invest in value chain partnerships that would propel sustained development within the value chain.
“The pandemic has taught us the need for preparedness. And now is the time for all us to work together, both private and public stakeholders, to scale-up value chain initiatives like this one— the Pre-harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions, as a modern module for the continuous growth and transformation of market systems for Agri-foods,” she said.
She further called for more support for the establishment of the ‘Agrihouse Agri-Village,’ which she said, would be a home for hundreds of agribusinesses in the country, whiles supporting to fully commercializing the sector.
The venue, she explained, would house different type of farm sites; Demonstration Centers Conference and Workshop halls, Restrooms, Exhibition stores for Agric Companies, Training and Recreational Centers, Storage and Processing Centers, Production rooms, and Laboratories and Research Centers.
“We are committed to this vision at Agrihouse Foundation, and I will therefore use this opportunity to call on our sponsors, corporate bodies, government and collaborating agencies, financial institutions, media partners, and development partners to stand boldly with us in these times, to commit and invest in this vision a reality,” she said.
Ms. Akosa made these comments at the recent 3-days 11th Pre-harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions, organized by Agrihouse Foundation, in Tamale, in the Northern from Tuesday, 19 October to Thursday, 21 October.
This year’s event was in collaboration with the Northern Regional Coordinating Council – NRCC, and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA).
Sponsors of the event were YARA, Ecobank Ghana PLC, World Food Programme, ADB-Agricultural Development Bank, GIZ MOAP, Demeter Ghana Limited, United Fertilizers Company Limited (UFCL), and HD PLUS.
For his part, the Northern Regional Minister, hon. Alhaji Shani Alhassan Shaibu, noted that although agriculture accounts for over 74% of northern Ghana’s employment, the rich and diverse agricultural potential of the region was largely untapped.
“It is against this background that, we here in the north, appreciating the measurable gains we are seeing in our region here in the north since the advent of the Pre-Harvest event” he underscored.
He said the platform has over the years, become an avenue that pulls together the largest number of agricultural value chain actors and agribusinesses in Ghana; consequently, helping farmers and agribusinesses to access new market opportunities, increase their knowledge and improved their higher yields annually.
“Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I should say that it has become rightly imperative that we all Work together to support the Preharvest event platform. That is the only practical way of ensuring that, ultimately, the desired growth and transformation of Ghana’s Northern Regions’ agricultural sector would be achieved,” he noted.
The West African Regional Director of YARA, Mr. Danquah Addo Yobo, for his part reiterated YARA’s commitment to the country’s agric sector, especially, to agricultural activities and farmers in the Northern regions of the country.
He revealed YARA has launched a new Mobile App, called “Farm Go,” to help farmers predict weather conditions accurately; which will enable them plan their farming activities, maximize their time to ensure more productivity.
“When we launched it this year, we were expecting that we will have about 2,500 downloads to end the year and then build up from there; today we have about 10, 000 farmers that have downloaded the app. We are very encouraged and it is our show of support,” he said.
He said YARA has in this year, also launched the ‘Sustainable Soya beans Production in Northern Ghana,’ Project, which underscores the importance of soya production in the Northern region; how it influences food security and the regions poultry sector.
“It is a four year project being supported by NORAD, a Norwegian fund. We expect that in the four years, we will reach at least a 100, 000 soya farmers. It is a value chain approach, so we are working with aggregators, processors, and the poultry industry. Just as we have been able to build the pre-harvest project we Agrihouse, we want to build the project that will create sustainability after the four years,” he said.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Managing Director of Ecobank Ghana, Mr. Dan Sarkey, noted that even in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the country’s agricultural sector has proven very resilient, by demonstrating a historic highest cocoa production last year.
He said Ecobank recognizes the importance of agriculture to the country’s economy, and that is why, “we continue to strengthen and grow our agribusiness portfolio as a means to positively impact our communities in job creation and increased agricultural productivity,” he stressed.
In light of this, he said Ecobank has setup the agribusiness desk under the commercial banking division of the bank. He said Ecobank has further financed the Wenchi and Tain Maize Farmers Federation (WTMFF), a farmer-based organization made up of 61 FBO’s with membership of 1,800 out of which 45 percent are women, to cultivate 1970 acres of maize to meet supply contract of the Yedent Group of Companies.
“Ecobank’s financing also directly impacted input suppliers of weedicides, pesticides, fertilizers, tractors and all the needed agricultural implements for farming,” he added.
He urged farmers and all other value chain stakeholders at the opening ceremony of the 11th Pre-harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions, to embrace Ecobank’s digital products such as Ecobank Mobile, Ecobank Paywith, Ecobank online, and Ecobank OmniLite, which are available for collections, transfers and payments, which constitute the frequently used banking activities of farmers.
A representative of Agricultural Development Bank, Mr. Fredrick Yaw Opoku, noted that ADB’s commitment to the agricultural sector remains unmatched, especially, since 2017 when a new board and management team was put in place with the mandate to refocus the core direction of agricultural financing.
“We launched the Broiler Value Chain Programme in 2020 with an estimated amount of 500 million Ghana cedis, seeking to revitalize the broiler subsector and to put an end to the huge foreign exchange spent on yearly basis to import poultry into the country,” he revealed.
He said the bank continues to increase its lending to the agricultural sector, with the aim of meeting the strategic objective of increasing the share of agricultural loans to at least 50 percent of the total loan portfolio.
The Chief of Bamvim Traditional Area, Bamvim-Lana, Alhaji Mahama Abdulai ll, for his part noted that, o ver the last ten years, the Pre-harvest Agribusiness Exhibition and Conference has become one of the key events that has supported the growth and development of Agriculture in Northern Ghana.
He said the platform has been very consistent annually, growing strong and linking farmers to Agro Input dealers, Agricultural machinery and equipment dealers, Aggregators and farm produce buyers.
“I can confidently and unequivocally state that the Pre-Harvest Conference and Exhibition is one of the leading if not the leading agricultural conferences and market platforms in Ghana,” he said.
For her part, the Northern Regional Director of Agriculture, Hajia Hawa Musah, described this year’s theme as time and appropriate, considering the negative impacts the COVID-19 Pandemic has had on all sectors of the national economy, the agric sector included.
“However I want to assure you that there is no cause for alarm. We pray for more showers of rain to record a bumper harvest,” she added.
She said even though the region has inadequate machinery and equipment for timely harvesting, now is the time for government and private stakeholders in the agric sector to invest in machinery to help reduces effects like post-harvest losses.
11th Pre-harvest Exhibitions and Conference Activities
The 3-days leading market linkage event opened on Tuesday, October 19th, and run until Thursday, October 21. The edition, which was on theme “Working Together to Improve Market Channels for Agri-foods Beyond the Pandemic,” took place at the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium, in Tamale in the Northern region.
The leading agribusiness market linkage conference and exhibitions event, featured major training and capacity session, such as, commodity breakout session, farmer-buyer matchmaking dialogues, showcasing successful agribusiness modules, exhibitions, agri-youth forum, gender workshop, development partner panel conversation, and practical field demonstrations exercises.
The event further highlighted and addressed the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified within the sector, the effects it has posed on marketing Agri-foods, while exploring existing market channels to address these challenges.
A key highlight of the 3-day event was the Field demonstrations, where farmers and actors got to practically learn, appreciate and adopt best practices in Farm Management. This took place at the Agrihouse Foundation AGRI-VILLAGE, a Ten (10) acre land, donated by the Bamvim Lana (Chief of Bamvim.
In the short to long term, the Agrihouse Foundation Agri-village is expected to house different type of demonstrations farms (including seeds and Livestock Farms), Demonstration Centres, Conference / Workshop halls, Restrooms, Exhibition stores for Agric Companies, Training and Recreational Centres, Storage space, Processing Centres, Production room, Laboratories and Research Centres.
Impacts of Pre-harvest Over the Years
Pre-harvest has created and continues to connect, through exhibitions, and training sessions, companies that are into fertilizers, seeds, Irrigation, machinery and equipment, Finance, Transportation, ICT, Processors, Packagers, Marketers, Government Institutions, Development Partners, among others. Over 90% of companies and participants have been linked to markets through the Exhibitions.
Pre-harvest has become a leading event on the Ghanaian agricultural calendar and has served as a stimulating platform for training, and for creating increased stakeholder linkages, exhibitions and expanded opportunities. It operates from a facilitative dimension by presenting a highly engaging and coordinated platform that ensures that smallholder farmers are connected to markets, finance, inputs, equipment, and information.
These activities are geared towards capturing the marketing challenges faced by the actors especially in the pandemic and how other modernized marketing platforms can serve as a solution to maximize the output of the actors along the value chain. Farmers, actors along the value chain and participants will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to observe Good Agricultural Practices.
This year’s 3-days event (2021 11th edition) recorded 118 Exhibitors including farmers, traders, commodity brokers, input companies, machinery and equipment providers, transporters, financial institutions, ICT, Innovations, Poultry and Livestock companies, packaging and processing companies, development practitioners and government agencies, among others. It made room for 3200 Participants; 32 FBO’s from different regions and districts who represented over 300, 000 farmers of rice, maize, soyabeans, sorghum, millet, groundnut, vegetables, yam and tubers, etc. A total of 46 buyers negotiated and signed deals with farmers.
In 2020, (10th edition) the event recorded a total of 3,122 participants and 122 exhibitors including farmers, traders, commodity brokers, input companies, machinery and equipment providers, transporters, financial institutions, ICT, Innovations, Poultry and Livestock companies, packaging and processing companies, development practitioners and government agencies, among others.
Report on the 2019 event showed that about 70 business deals were made during the Exhibition. More than GHS232, 420, 745 of agri products and equipment were sold and bought. The event has improved the livelihoods of the players along the value chain by boosting their confidence i.e. created a stimulus platform for collaborating with other actors for business deals/increased stakeholders linkages.
It has given agro-processors a strong drive to access their raw materials locally, agribusiness development, grown the local economy through the expansion of agribusiness opportunities and has become a platform of growth for agribusiness entrepreneurs. The event will remain one of the leading events in the country, where farmers, businesses, government and ideas meet to network, build capacity, learn and explore business opportunities, sign deals and close contracts.
In 2018, the event won the Agribusiness event of the Year, for helping to promotes business partnerships among value chain actors, especially farmers, buyers, processors, transporters, input dealers, equipment dealers, financial institutions, telecom companies and policy makers. Over the years, through continuous improvement, it has accelerated the transformation of agribusiness in Northern Ghana, alongside Government’s initiatives.
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).