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.
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.
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 Deputy Director, Program Planning, at the Canadian High Commission, Corey Huntington, has reiterated Canada’s commitment towards empowering women in agriculture in Ghana.
She said it is the reason Canada continues to support WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards because the vision of the event strongly resonates with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, which aims to put women and girl’s front and centre of development.
“We strongly believe that women are critical to the sustainability of Ghana’s agriculture and that successful women farmers deserved to be recognized and celebrated for their achievements and contributions to the nation,” she stressed.
In a short presentation at WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards, she described the event as, “the right platform to highlight the successes of women farmers and demonstrate that, given equal opportunities, women farmers can contribute significantly to Ghana’s development agenda,” she underscored.
She therefore commended Agrihouse Foundation for providing an annul capacity building and networking opportunity through WOFAGRIC, that helps to build resilience of women farmers— this year, focusing on agri-women in the Upper East and Upper West regions.
Modernizing Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) Project Powered by Canada
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). Canada recognises that the agriculture sector continues to hold great potential for reducing poverty and inequality in Ghana. In this light, Canada is providing 125 million Canadian dollars of assistance directly to the Government of Ghana to help modernize the sector.
The MAG project is now in the fifth year of implementation and tremendous successes are being recorded. These include increases in the adoption of relevant, productivity-enhancing technologies by both female and male farmers in Ghana, the introduction of new market-oriented approaches to farm management, improvements in major crops and many more.
A big focus of the MAG project has been to understand the specific needs of women farmers and to ensure that both female and male farmers are receiving the appropriate extension services to help them improve both their yields and their incomes.
This is in line with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance policy and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality. Through our partnerships with the Government of Ghana and organizations like the Agrihouse Foundation, we are witnessing increased empowerment and self-reliance among women in the agricultural sector.
Women farmers are demonstrating higher levels of financial autonomy. As a result, they are now able to buy land, add rooms to their homes, purchase agro-processing machines, expand their agro-processing activities, and pay school fees for their children.
About 3rd WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards
This year Madam Portia Asumda, from Zangeyire in the Upper East Region took home the ultimate Gold in the Soil Award. She has been farming five years and is into the cultivation of rice, and maize, and rears cow, small ruminant and guinea fowls.
She has been working for the past 10 years and has helped train about 200 women in agri-processing capacities. She mentors women and employs a number of them who depend on the income they make to support their families. In view of her hard work, NBSSI collaborates with her as a service provider, ensuring that her products meet international standards, that enables her to export her products.
The rest of the award winners in their various categories are as follows:
Passion for Farm— Portia Gban
She innovates— Gafaratu Fuseini
Climate Smart Women Project— Memuna Abdul Rahaman
Outstanding woman in extension services— Leuzumah Rashida
The super Woman Farmer— Alima Wahabu
Royal Agro— Ayiesheitu Mahamadu Asaki
Diamond in the rough— Saantuma Sala
Feed to Foods— Genevive Akugu
Change Champion Award— Asieme Elsie Azelikumah
Development Partner— Canada
Lady of the Export Region— Anita Sutha
Star Woman Agripreneur— Mavis Alahire Aboko
She operates— Joy okrah
Princess Carla— Hawawu Gbahara
Gold in the Soil— Portia Asumda
This year the Awards Scheme received 131 nominations from both Upper East and Upper West Region. Out of the number, 45 women were shortlisted and 14 awarded. A special Gold in the Soil award went to Canada as a development partner.
This year WOFAGRIC and Gold in the soil Award 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 GOLD In the Soil AWARDS, is an annual awards scheme, solely dedicated to contribute in 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 story is shared and broadcasted through a documentary series produced by Agrihouse Foundation.
Impacts of WOFAGRIC and Gold in the soil Awards
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.
About 500 women have registered to participate in the maiden edition of the Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Forum & Expo (WOFAGRIC) and Gold in the Soil Awards, scheduled to begin from 12th – 13th of June, 2019, at Chances Hotel, Ho, Volta Region.
This event is the first of its kind in the agricultural sector for the recognition of women and their immeasurable contribution in agribusiness.
The two-day event themed; Women! Key Partners in Shaping Agribusiness is expected to empower, encourage and reward the efforts of women in Agribusiness. WOFAGRIC seeks to recognize the contribution of women in the Agricultural sector, support their innovations and empower others to venture into the sector. This event’s aim is to give women a voice, offer them a platform and champion the cause of the Agric businesswoman. It would also serve as a means of bridging the gender inequality gap in the agriculture sector and provide women with an array of opportunities for networking.
As part of its contribution towards the two-day event, the Canadian embassy has made a commitment to provide funding and technical support. The 1st secretary-Development High Commission of Canada to Ghana, Marie Claude Harvey said: “As a key partner of Ghana, we have in recent times seen the need to increase efforts towards women. This is because women represent an essential part of the society through which the rest of society can be positively impacted.
Focusing on gender equality (in agric) for us is an opportunity to address the root-cause of poverty. Women play a key role in agriculture but there is a big gap in terms of access when compared to their male counterparts. This we believe makes it naturally difficult for women to transition from subsistence farming to one of industrial proportion. We are thrilled to know that WOFAGRIC is specifically targeted at women making it a fantastic opportunity for women to improve their businesses and expand.”
Mentorship and training sessions by YARA Ghana, Sidalco, Interplast and ADB; sponsors of the event, would encourage and empower women who want to venture into agribusiness. There would also be a session where women would be trained on the processing of rice milk, tiger nut powder, groundnut and cocoa powder so that they can be self-sufficient with the skills they would acquire at the event.
Gold in the Soil Awards, a core component of the programe will recognize and reward outstanding women who have made significant contributions in agribusiness. The Gold in the soil award received over 50 nominations since nominations opened and is spread across fourteen(14) categories that include; Passion for Farm Award, She Innovates Award, Super Woman Award, Women in Extension Services, Star in Ag Awards, Diamond in the Rough Awards, Feed to Food Award, Change Champion Award, Royal Agro Award (Queen mothers), Lady of the Region Export Award, Climate Smart Women Project awards, Princess “Carla Denizard” Award, Development Partner Award and the most coveted Gold in the Soil Award.
According to Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, “It is an obvious reality that women for instance do not receive adequate support in their quest to compete with their male counterparts despite their immense contribution to the sector”. This event would put women in the forefront and also acknowledge their achievements and contributions to the growth of their community and the nation as a whole.”
WOFAGRIC Partners in the agriculture sector include Women in Agricultural development (WIAD), National Farmers & Fishermen Award Winners’ Association and AGRA. International partners include Brazilian Embassy, Embassy of Israel, USAID’s ADVANCE PROJECT, Netherlands Embassy and USAD Amplified.
WOFAGRIC is expected to move to a different region every year, offering women all over the country an equal chance to be encouraged and celebrated.