Stakeholders push for policy directions to build sustainable farmers at community levels

At the Gathering of the Royals event held a week ago in Greater Accra Region, Queen mothers from different regions met with representatives from the select committee, ministry of food and agriculture, selected parliamentarians and development partners to address issues and propose interventions which when implemented will drive realistic growth of agriculture within their communities.

At the Gathering of the Royals event held a week ago in Greater Accra Region, Queen mothers from different regions met with representatives from the select committee, ministry of food and agriculture, selected parliamentarians and development partners to address issues and propose interventions which when implemented will drive realistic growth of agriculture within their communities.

They passionately made submissions of challenges which are disturbing farming activities, issues that are preventing farmers from scaling up their farms.

They also touched on problems that are causing farmers to commit suicide and government projects that get started but never see an end.

The event attracted over 170 stakeholders from the Academia, Policy Influencers, Civil Society, Corporate institutions, Farmer Associations, Selected Members from the Physically Challenged Associations, Traditional and Community leaders, and also highlighted the plight of Queen mothers in working with agric industry players to grow agribusiness at the community level; hence, they called for the urgent development of a working path that will strengthen farmers and farming activities.

The Queen mothers used the half-day event to highlight challenges facing their communities, including inequalities in the land tenure system; poor road networks to and from farmlands; lack of capital and high interest rates of banks; insufficient market for their crops; and inadequate processing centres.

Others also touched on cattle and elephant invasions; poor irrigation supply; lack of extension officers and farm equipment; lack of agric training and capacity building centres for farmers; fertilizer accessibility challenges; and lack of farming protective apparel.

The Royals are hopeful the Gathering of the Royals will lead government and decision-makers to work closely with them to influence, develop and champion policies that will grow sustainable farmers, which will support the food security agenda.

Agrihouse Director Calls for Strengthened Partnerships

The Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa Sarpong, used her opening statement to emphasise the need for strong and a long-term working relationship between Queen mothers and agribusinesses.

“At Agrihouse Foundation, our drive behind the Gathering of the Royals initiative is to contribute in driving a national agenda that will further strengthen and scale up agric activities; and we believe bridging the relationship between Queen mothers and agribusinesses is one of the major steps.

“We are hopeful that the outcomes from this initiative will be very massive and impactful, as we expect to see our Queen mothers set the pace by championing the development and promotion of agriculture in their respective communities to create sustainable livelihoods for the farmers.”

While commending Agrihouse Foundation as a worthy partner to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in unlocking and transforming the massive potentials of the country’s agricultural sector, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Yaw Frimpong Addo, emphasised government’s strong belief in private sector participation and partnerships to forge formidable alliances that bring solutions to problems in the agric sector.

He also commended the Gathering of the Royals as an appropriate platform to empower Queen mothers to take up the challenges of providing needed leadership in their respective communities.

He ended his speech by assuring the Queen mothers that outcomes of the meeting will be submitted to the appropriate quarters in parliament so necessary actions can be taken. He also commented on the issue of wild elephants invading the farms of some women in the north, and promised a joint action together with the forestry and wildlife division will be taken to find long-term solutions for these problems.

Key Speaker’s Call to Action

Dr. Zanetor Agyemang Rawlings – ‘‘Let Your Voice Be Heard’’

Taking her turn, Member of Parliament for the Korle-Klottey Constituency, Dr. Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, urged Ghanaian Queen mothers to mobilise; and as part of their activities, petition parliament with their concerns and demands. She said petitioning government or parliament should not be, and is not, the sole privilege of pressure groups and civil society organisations.

“Royals, we need to hear more from you,” Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings stressed. “You have the opportunities to even come to parliament,” she said. “You can come and visit the speaker and share your concerns. You can put together petitions and bring them to the speaker. These are all ways you can put pressure to have your concerns addressed. It shouldn’t just be the CSOs we keep hearing about. You are a force to reckon with, and if you speak up we cannot ignore your voices,” she ended.

“You are the ones on the ground who know what is happening, you know the struggles and challenges; and importantly, you have the solutions to advise us on the kinds of policies that will ensure gender mainstreaming moves from an abstract concept,” she said.

Ms. Zanetor noted that: ‘‘A woman expected to play a secondary role to a man in these times is very unfortunate’’.  She therefore used the opportunity to call for action toward ending inequalities that bedevil agri-women in the areas of land tenure system, access to farming equipment, farming inputs, access to finance and training, and capacity building among others.

Madam Josephine Nkrumah – ‘‘See Challenges as Corporate Social Responsibilities’’

In making her submission, Chairman of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Madam Josephine Nkrumah, first praised Agrihouse Foundation for organising an event that has made room for the Queen mothers to amplify their concerns, and connect them to partners and stakeholders who can address the issues. She said beyond being agricultural challenges, the concerns the Queen mothers have highlighted further speak to issues of gender equality, nation building and security, which are all essential to be addressed.

“When we discuss these issues, we always look at them from the top; but we need to get down to the basics, and understand how these issues affect the bigger picture of nation-building,” she stressed. She therefore called on policymakers and corporate entities who were present at the event to, as part of their corporate social responsibilities, work with the Queen mothers and traditional leaders to address their challenges.

“Let’s begin to see these challenges as corporate social responsibilities. We should not make this event another talk-shop. We have had enough talk-shops. The event is a call to action,” she stressed. She urged the Queen mothers not to underestimate their power: “Women are the influencers, and Queen mothers drive policy at the basic level. Do not underestimate your power; when you rise up and speak, people listen,” she said.

John Osei Frimpong calls on Government to Improve Budget Coordination in Agriculture

Also taking his turn as a key contributor during the Gathering of the Royals event, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee of Food Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, John Osei Frimpong, called on government to further grow Ghana’s agricultural sector by improving public expenditure allocation and management as well as budget coordination in agriculture. He pressed the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to improve the collection and analysis of agricultural statistics. He also emphasised the ministry’s need to produce high quality and credible data for planning on regular basis – and also for them to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of input subsidy programmes and fix gaps in input supply legislation.

Nana Adwoa Awindor calls for policies to be implemented to ensure growth in women’s lives

The Development Queen Mother of Afigya-Kwabre district in the Ashanti Region, Nana Adjoa Awindor, stressed the need for policy implementation. She said it is not enough for agencies to draft agric documents. The policies must be implemented to ensure growth in the lives of women. “We should be able to see progress and have measurable results, our Queen mothers should be able to tell us how policymakers and corporate bodies have supported them at their community level to improve agricultural activities at the next Gathering of the Royals.”

Hajia Alima Sagito-Saeed – ‘‘Don’t compromise women in leadership’’

The Executive Director of Savannah Women Integrated Development Agency Ghana (SWIDA) in her submission said to improve agriculture with the communities, women in leadership positions must not be compromised. Institutions and corporate bodies must engage more women in decision-making, and in the implementation of projects.

Hajia Alima also advocated for the need to mentor more young women to become leaders in their communities and head initiatives, as the inequality margins keep widening. She stressed the importance of stakeholders, including women and Queen mothers, to sit up and take the responsibility of insisting and demanding for resources and opportunities to develop.

“It is unfortunate that even with the constitution, women are denied opportunities and resources to build their capacity. It is therefore a matter of calling for action, and insisting on policy directions that can change the negative trend.”

Touching on the Sustainable Development Goals, Hajia Alima noted that the implementation efforts must centre on the development of women. “The work must intentionally target the progress and development of women, because women are change-agents in the communities and families. Empowering the Queen mothers will give them power to lead more women and change in their communities,” she noted.

Mr. Korboe Narh Davies calls for more Women Participation in Agriculture

In his remarks, the Chairman of the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association, Mr. Korboe Narh Davies, praised Agrihouse Foundation for continuously empowering value chain actors with events and training programmes that educate and help them improve on their skills, knowledge and capacity. He said NFFAWAG will continue to be a strong supporter of Agrihouse, as the organisation aligns with initiatives of the Foundation.

“Farming is not a reserved activity for a particular group of people but it is for all, so I encourage more women to venture into farming as a way of growing our country,” he said.


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