TIAST Group, as part of marking International Women’s Day 2022, has partnered Stanbic Bank and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) to host a conference dubbed ‘Women in Agriculture’, under the theme ‘Empowering Women in Agriculture Through Financial and Technical Support for Agro-processing’.
The conference was held on Thursday, March 17, 2022 at the Canwin Hotel in Sakumono, and brought together personalities and key players in the Ghanaian agribusiness space: including Dr. Afua Asabea Asare, CEO-GEPA who was guest speaker; Theresa C. A. Wayo, Deputy Director for Women in Agriculture Development Directorate; and Lilian Bazaale, Head of Agribusiness at Stanbic Bank.
In her address, Dr. Afua Asabea Asare reminded women in agriculture of the fact that they are powerful and capable of great things. She urged women to take advantage and be at the forefront of the many opportunities available in cassava production in Ghana. “Ghana’s gari, for instance, is more popular in Nigeria than Nigerian gari,” she revealed to the amusement of many in the audience.
She also stated the existence of a support hub for all who want to engage in export in Ghana; a one-stop shop for information and help concerning certification, training among others.
Lilian Bazaale, representing Stanbic Bank, also stated the bank’s interest in supporting agribusiness in Ghana; and specifically cassava production and export in Ghana. She informed the gathering of the financial opportunities available to large-scale outfits and groups for acquiring processing equipment, and entreated all to reach out through TIAST in order to find a solution that best suits them.
Theresa C.A. Wayo from Women In Agriculture Development (WIAD) advised that farmers keep accurate data in order to be able to meet requirements necessary to acquire help from banks and other sponsors/ investors. She ended by revealing that cassava starch is used in making cheese balls – a very popular snack available on the streets of Accra and elsewhere.
The International Business Manager for TIAST West Africa, Irene Sackey, outlined the various support systems set up by the company to help all who decide to embark on cassava production and processing in Ghana. The support provided includes financial support through their partnership with Stanbic Bank, technical support for factory equipment, and providing a ready market for a client’s venture.
She announced a new incentive by the company called the ‘Woman-up operational premium’ that encourages more women to enter cassava production and processing. Other incentives include the ‘sustained productivity incentive’ that is made available monthly, among others.
During the interactive session, Priscilla Fiati, Business Development Manager at TIAST, outlined some challenges faced by women in the agriculture sector: including lack of training and agricultural resources, the cultural setup of Ghana allowing more men to own lands, among others. Other challenges mentioned included inaccessible roads leading to some farms in the hinterlands and villages, leading to wastage and rotting of cassava.
Dr. Asabea Asare however reassured the entire gathering as to the fact all such challenges have been noted and are being worked on tirelessly to make sure the Ghanaian agriculture sector grows and prospers.