Disability does not mean no ability – Yara boss tells 17 women farmers

women farmers with disabilities

The West African Regional Director of YARA, Mr. Danquah Addo-Yobo, has underscored the resilience and incredible achievements of the 17 women farmers with disabilities who have been nominated for ‘Gold in the Soil Awards’ this year.

He said while their presence in the awards scheme and at the Women in Food and Agriculture Leadership Training Forum (WOFAGRIC) will serve as encouragement for more women with physical challenges, their contributions to the country’s agricultural sector is sending a strong message about their potentials.

In line with this, he said YARA is particularly looking forward to empowering the three hundred (300) women farmers who will be at this year’s event with new business practices and skills, to help them recover, grow and stand out.

As a leader in the fertiliser production and distribution space, and an organisation committed to knowledge-sharing, he said, YARA will be playing key roles in the practical training and mentoring sessions, as it does annually with the women.

“The platforms continue to provide our experts and agronomists opportunities to impact the women with knowledge on best farming and agronomic practices. We are looking forward to the mentorship sessions to give the women best recommendations on fertilisers for the right crops, and how to use them to ensure great yield and profitability,” he said.

WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards, he noted, provide a unique and strategic platform for stakeholders in the value chain to present successful modules, agribusiness ideas and practices to corporate and development partners, as well as individuals who continue to have doubts about the profitability of agriculture.

“We are looking forward to the event creating more value chain partnerships and support systems – so that the participants will not only go back with farming knowledge, but also find market opportunities and collaborations for their agric produce and products.”

He congratulated all the forty-five (45) women farmers who have been shortlisted for the ‘Gold in the Soil Awards’, and encouraged them to continue excelling in their chosen areas within the country’s agricultural value chain.

For her part, Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa Sarpong, revealed this year’s ‘Gold in the Soil Awards’ received a total of eight-two (82) nominations from the Western and Western North Regions.

She said for the first time in four years, the ‘Super Woman Farmer Award Category’ committed to recognising the exceptional efforts of Ghanaian women farmers with disabilities received significant entries; indicating a positive representation of the Foundations efforts over the past 3 years.

Ten-year-old Esther Ofori is receiving an honorary recognition and support for her passion for agriculture despite her physical challenges. Esther resides in Dzatokrom in the Sewti Wiawso district of the Western North Region.

In her ‘Gold in the Soil awards’ documentary, Esther reveals that she cultivates a two-acre maize and yam farm. She shares with Agrihouse Foundation the challenges of living with a disability in a deprived community. While the documentary calls for support for Esther, it also highlights her dedication toward farming and her education.

According to Ms. Akosa Sarpong, Agrihouse Foundation is immensely touched by the super-human abilities of the ten-year-old farmer: and to honour her potentials, the ‘Super Girl Farmer Award Category’ has been created especially for her.

Highlighting remaining categories of the awards, she revealed a Passion for Farm category that goes to a woman excited and passionate about agribusiness and is contributing to the growth of her community, which received 17% of the total entries.

She said the Foundation is also paying close attention to women operating in the areas of climate smart farming (Climate Smart category), the Lady of the Region Export Award category and the ‘She-Operator Award’ category, which have over the years received the lowest entries, with only 2.5% of total women submitting entries this year.

This is an indication that there is more room for improvement and some more work to do, and as a Foundation we are looking forward to working more closely with both private and public institutions, development partners and related agencies to upgrade the knowledge of women in agriculture to enhance productivity, growth and expansion.

The remaining award categories – including Royal Agro Award, She Innovates, Outstanding Women in Extension Services, and Diamond in the Rough Award – all received encouraging entries comprising between 10 to 18% of nominations.

The Feed to Foods award, Star Woman Agripreneur award, Princess Carla and Change Champion awards all pulled in average numbers of between 8 to 10% of nominations.

“Generally, we are satisfied with the balanced representation in the remaining categories, as well as the number of women farmers and Agribusinesses represented in this year’s nominations,” Ms. Akosa Sarpong said.

The ultimate award – The Gold in the Soil – award received seven strong nominations, including 2 from women farmers with disabilities.  Over the last 3 years, the award has been given to an outstanding woman in agriculture producing along the entire agricultural value chain, from production through to processing, branding and marketing, among others. Importantly, her agribusiness should be making recognisable impacts on her community. Last year, Madam Portia Asumda from Zangeyire in the Upper East Region won the category.

This year, the two-part event is set to take place on Wednesday, June 22 and Thursday, June 23 at the Akroma Plaza Hotel in the Western Region, Takoradi, on the theme ‘AGRIWOMAN: RECOVER- GROW- STAND OUT’.

Annually, the WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards move from region to region, with the aim of empowering and celebrating the exceptional efforts of women in agriculture across the regions.

In the past three (3) years, the two-part event has been held in the Volta Region, Ashanti Region, Upper East and West Regions. While the Women in Food and Agriculture Leadership Training Forum has developed and strengthened the capacities of over 2,000 women in agribusiness, by exposing them to more innovative approaches of handling their agribusinesses, the Gold in the Soil Awards have received about 638 entries and awarded 45 agri-women under the various categories.

The event also brings together stakeholders in government, policy and administration, development-partner organisations, Research, FBOs, Agric institutions and resource persons, who support in the capacity building, training and mentorship sessions. The trainers and mentors empower the women with business knowledge and industry innovations to help them excel in the sector.

This year, Global Affairs Canada, YARA, RDF Ghana, ABSA, OCP AFRICA and Fidelity Bank are corporate sponsors of the event.

Collaborating Institutions include the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD), the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners’ Association (NFFAWAG) and the Western Regional Coordinating Council.

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