#IWD2021: Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa: The woman in the middle of it all  

0
Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa
The Executive Director for Agrihouse Foundation Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa

The innate desire to expand and increase— even to touch lives and make a difference is a shared human instinct. As people, we are born to recognize needs, perceive opportunities, take chances and establish; to improve where we find ourselves and continuously work to create a world where the latter is better than the former.

Not everyone is able to take this journey of sowing a seed of goodwill; to believe strongly in it, enough to convince others to see the potent of their seed and join hands in the processes of watering and nurturing towards growth. It takes unshakable determination to stand firm with a vision— because to be a visionary means countless sleepless nights; silent tears and abundant sweats; overwork and overload…, but you still make a decision to travel the road. And in most cases, traveling the road becomes tougher when you are counted a ‘weaker vessel,’— a woman trying to achieve recognizable feats in a male dominated world or industry. You have to prove yourself twice as much, through hard work, to be considered worthy of any attention at all.

This is the story of Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, the Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, and the life she chose, when she decided to become a leading force for good, in Ghana’s agricultural sector, through her Non-governmental organization. It’s been over ten years for her in the game, and even with some remarkable achievements under her belt, when she’s praised for her accomplishments, Alberta chuckles softly with modesty and says, “we’re just scratching the surface of the vision. There’s more work to be done. We’re on the field and in the farms, with our agribusinesses and farmers— they matter the most.” And then she cracks an illuminous smile of determination, looking poised and decisive, even with her plain looks, beautiful black dreadlocks and simple attires— but the vision she inhabits for Agrihouse Foundation and Ghana’s agricultural sector brims like wildfire in her eyes.

One look at Ms. Akosa and you see a Ghanaian woman who understands the need to do, build and expand. And in the last five years, leading a dynamic and energetic team at Agrihouse, the Foundation has been at the forefront of promoting, advocating, mentoring, branding, organizing agric exhibitions, Trade Promotions and building human capability and interest in the agricultural sector through its list of interventional projects and events, including, the Agricultural Students Career Guidance and Mentorship Dialogues Bootcamp (AG- STUD); Livestock Poultry & Fisheries Trade Show (LiPF); International Farmers and Agribusiness Resilience and Sustainability Convention (INTAFAC) Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Forum (WOFAGRIC) and Gold in the Soil Awards; Annual Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions; The Agrihouse Agri-Woman Market Place; Agri-Watch; 1 household, 1 Garden Initiative (1h,1g)

The Foundation works closely with students, women and men farmers, farming associations, agribusinesses and several actors within the value chain, with goal of changing the perception of, and consciously shaping the conversation on agriculture through the promotion of people-impact programs, projects and initiatives, “Agrihouse Foundation is passionate about Agriculture and wants to see Agriculture rise and work in this country. And so, we do the work” she says casually in an interview.

But doing the work, is certainly not as causal as she makes it seem when she’s talking modestly about it. It is achieved as a result of combined effort and experience spanning over 30 years.  The team at Agri-house Foundation is passionate about positioning and shaping the conversation on agriculture through smart thinking, effective communication and impactful Agric-friendly projects. The goal is to initiate and drive projects that will address issues and challenges in agriculture and generate thoughtful debates among our stakeholders and ultimately provide step-by-step solutions, “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 reveals.

The Projects and Impacts

So, let’s jump right into these project Alberta and her team have been championing over the years at Agrihouse Foundation and see the impacts they have been chalking with each. It’s important to know that Alberta team is one of the most culturally diverse group I have interacted with in any working space. Her employees hail from both the southern and northern parts of our country, beautifully representing the cultures from which they come. A team of eight hard working young women and five young men, Alberta truly represents herself a Boss who believes in the physical and intellectual abilities of young women, thus, always giving girls or lady al little more preference. But generally, she believes in the potentials all young minds can bring to the table, and is very open to the experience of working with young people. Now let’s get to the Project and impacts:

Agricultural students’ Career Guidance & Mentorship Dialogue Bootcamp (AG-STUD): This event is a practical beginner Agribusiness initiative 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. AG-STUD brings together students from senior high schools and agricultural colleges, farm institutes, start-ups and beginner agribusinesses, from across the country, to enlightened, coached and mentored by educators in the agricultural sector. Through Ag-stud, participating students and groups have been made aware of the many opportunities available in the field of agriculture and in agribusiness and how to harness such opportunities. Over 500 students from 30 different schools who have participated in various editions of the event have been have taught to be self-reliant, and have been supported with start-up capital to enable them start their agri-businesses. Over 1000 agri-business students and beginner agribusinesses have been groomed by mentors, coaches and trainers from diverse organizations, enabling them to develop strong business plans.  Thus, over 250 agri-students and beginner agribusinesses have been established by some participants, and over 27 successful businesses are run by students who have participated in AG-STUD. Mushfarm in Accra and Northern Region Agricultural Youth Hub are two outstanding examples of such successful independent agri-businesses. This year, the 5-days bootcamp will be coming off in April, starting from, from Monday, 19 April to Friday, 23 April, on the theme, “We have enabled and established, time to scale-up to feed Ghana.”

 

Livestock Poultry & Fisheries Trade Show (LiPF): The tradeshow aims to ensure that 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. Agrihouse Foundation recently launched the 3rd edition of LiPF on the theme, “We Move! W)n Yaa,” with the main 2-day event scheduled to come off from Friday, May 21 – Saturday, May 22, in partnership with the United State Department of Agriculture (UNDA) – Ghana Poultry Project (GPP), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), and National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winner’s Association of Ghana (NFFAWAG). 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.

Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Forum (WOFAGRIC) and Gold in the Soil Awards: this project was established in 2019 by Agrihouse foundation 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 career women in the field of agriculture in their various rural areas and communities. WOFAGRIC has been a source of women empowerment. The two-face project has over the years acknowledged the wonderful works done by women and awarding them through the Gold in the Soil Awards, which goes a long run to motivate other women to venture into the fields of agriculture business. As part of impacts, 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. Also, attendees received training on proper management and book keeping. A follow up evaluation carried out 3 months after the event revealed some of these women have now been able to access loan facilities to support their farms and businesses. This year WOFAGRIC is scheduled for Wednesday 16th – Thursday 17th June, in the Upper West Region.

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. Preharvest 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. This year the event is scheduled for Wednesday, October 6 to Friday, October 8.

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): this a new interventional event introduced this year, with the maiden edition scheduled to come off in July. INTAFAC seeks to bring togther 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 seasoned Agri-leaders, players and experts from government, Farmer based Organizations, development partners, Finance, businesses, technology, academia and actors, to 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 Agrihouse Agri-Woman Market Place: This is also a new intervention, introduced this year, with a maiden edition scheduled to come off on March 12, at the forecourts of Agrihouse Foundation in Dzorwulu, Accra. Agri-Woman Market Place aims to help Ghanaian woman farmer, processer, packager, marketer, IT service providers, among others, working within the agric value chain to market their services and products with convenience, both online and directly, in cleaner, safer spaces. This year, the Foundation wants to use the essence of the project to highlight two major events celebrated annually, ‘International Women’s Day’ commemorated on the March 8, to celebrate women’s achievements; raise awareness against bias and take action for equality. The second event is ‘International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste,’ commemorated annually on September 29, to highlight the critical need to reduce food loss and wastage around the world. To register to become a seller or exhibitor at the Farmers Market, simply visit social media pages of Agrihouse and register via the link, http://bit.ly/agriwoman,” Agrihouse urges as many Ghanaians as possible to come by the Market Place on March 12, and purchase from our Ghanaian women farmers and processes.

Agri-Watch: AgriWatch is a bi-weekly news portal and newsletter platform of Agrihouse Foundation that updates all stakeholders with agricultural news, issues, and trends regionally, nationally and globally. You can access relevant and timely agric related new at www.agriwatchgh.com and all Agrihouse Foundation social media pages.

Agrihouse Communications

This is the sister company of Agrihouse Foundation, also established by Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa. Agricomms, is a 21st Century data-driven communications company with vast knowledge in Ghana’s agric sector. This background makes Agrihouse Communications Ltd, a preferred industry communications expert for both corporate organizations 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. On the journey to redefining the very essence of Agricultural corporate communications, we have had enviable achievements since our entry into the industry and won and retained esteemed clients and partners.

We have 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. Over the years, we have worked with Rainbow; Reed Exhibitions; Mantrac; World Cover; Motor King; Foundaries; John Deere; and YARA Ghana. With a combined staff effort and experience spanning over 30 years, the team at Agrihouse Communication is passionate about our clients’ satisfaction and result. Consequently, we design practicable and budget friendly solutions ensured to achieve whatever targeted results. Our integrity as a customer satisfying company is expressed in the staying faithfulness of our clients who have been enjoying our services for years. We have not lost any client.

The Focus this Year for the Agrihouse Brand

This year, in spite of COVID-19 pandemic which has persisted since last year, Agrihouse Foundation is poised to make more impacts through its projects and events— because as much as the times have been grave, it has helped the Foundation to positively focus and build renewed resilience towards its vision and missions, “This year, Agrihouse is guided by the theme, building resilience, market and sustainability,” Ms. Akosa reveals as our conversation gradually comes to a wrap,  “Our goal is to scale-up on all our projects to make greater impact on our stakeholders; meaning more practical aspects of our projects and vents. What our people need now is a resilient mindset— the will to do even when it seems tough, because we don’t know when this pandemic is going to wash away, but until then, we have to keep living, building and growing forward…, especially in our agricultural sector as a country. And at Agrihouse, my team and I are here to add to the push.”

Ms. Alberta Nana akyaa akosa, also said Agrihouse  is poised to cultivate sustainability on the international level, meaning more partnership and networking opportunities with international farmers, beginner agribusinesses, civil society organizations focused on agriculture, development partners,  small and large-scale farmers, and technology and financial firms, “partnerships are always welcome,” she stressed, “ones they are genuine and align with our missions at Agrihouse Foundation, our doors are always open for one more opportunity…, like Oliver Twist,” she noted lightheartedly with a chuckle, and it was the best way to sum up our interaction for the day. Long Live Agrihouse Foundation!

Leave a Reply