Addressing gender disparities crucial to the transformation of the agriculture sector

The Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT), has said efforts to develop the agriculture sector cannot be fully realized if conscious attempts are not made to eliminate the lifelong issues of gender inequalities, especially with the introduction of some new agric policies, by the government.

The Programme Manager of NETRIGHT, Patricia Blankson Akakpo, explained that it is important now to find solutions to gender disparities in the agriculture sector given that despite the existence of a gender policy, since 2001, there are still gender gaps that ought to be resolved.

According to the MoFA, women contribute 70 percent of food and food crop production in the country. They, however, reap minimal benefits from investments in the sector.

MoFA’s Progress Report for 2013 shows that large proportions of the agricultural workforce are women, constituting 52 percent, with a high rate of illiteracy and limited capacity to access and adopt improved agricultural technologies, thus most of them are poor.

Women farmers’ access, control, and ownership of land also pose a huge challenge to their farming activities, as a result of the complex mix of customary and statutory laws that governs Ghana’s land tenure system.

The Food and Agricultural Sector Development Policy (FASDEP) II categorically states that gender inequality in the agricultural sector has undermined the achievement of sustainable agricultural development because programmes and projects are not systematically formulated around different needs of women and men.

Furthermore, MoFA’s mid-term review report of the Medium Term Agricultural Sector Investment Plan (METASIP), in 2013, also indicates that the approximate male to a female coverage ratio of all projects mapped to the METASIP was 2:1 and very few of the projects had gender inclusiveness as part of the areas of focus within project objectives.

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FASDEP II policy direction for the sector focuses on value chain approach to the agricultural sector, emphasizing value-addition and market access. This brings into sharp focus emerging issues in the shifts in policy since the development of Gender and Agricultural Development Strategy (GADS I) in 2001.

The GADS was reviewed and re-launched in 2015 as GADS II and provides guidance for the integration of gender equality in the implementation of agricultural development policies and programmes.

Madam Patricia Blankson Akakpo, speaking in an interview with B&FT, at the backdrop of a policy dialogue in Kumasi, stated that the successful implementation of the GADS II will contribute effectively to address some of these existing challenges.

She emphasized that key stakeholders including the district assemblies collectively would need to align it with their work plans to make it effective. She, however, maintained that there is the need to relook at the strategic objectives of the bb policy, interrogate it and monitor its implementation at each stage of the process.

The Ashanti Regional Director of MoFA, Rev. John Manu, noted that MoFA recognizes the issue of gender disparities and imbalances in many spheres of life including the agricultural sector hence its effort to address it through the introduction of GADS II.

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He said this ensures the inclusion of women in the decision-making processes as well providing a framework for achieving a gender sensitive equitable and efficient agriculture sector.

The representative of the USAID’s Feed the Future Agricultural Policy Support Project, Mr. Festus Kwame Kwadzokpo, encouraged policies to improve the agriculture sector must be based on research.

It was his expectation that the dialogue will come out with a policy brief which will be submitted to the various relevant ministries as part of efforts to bring policy reforms to the agric sector.

The NETRIGHT Regional Focal Point, Mrs. Elisabeth Adubofour, was hopeful that the event will highlight avenues for cooperation between stakeholders and to also come up with beneficial solutions which can positively impact the agric sector.

The policy dialogue was organized by NETRIGHT with support from the USAID, through Feed, the Future’s Agriculture Policy Support Project under the theme “Strengthening Gender Responsive Policy Processes in the Agricultural Sector.” It was aimed at increasing public awareness on women’s participation in the agriculture sector and shed light on the policies that encourage women empowerment and productivity.

The forum served as a platform for about 60 stakeholders from women’s rights organisations, women farmer groups and other representatives from the public sector—who are all crucial actors in Ghana’s agriculture development.

The participants were encouraged to advocate for evidence-based and gender-responsive policies in the agriculture sector to strengthen their access, control, and ownership of critical agriculture resources.

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