While acknowledging the achievements of the fifteen women farmers with disability, honored at this year’s 4th Gold in the Soil Awards, organized by Agrihouse Foundation, the West Africa Regional Director of Yara, Mr. Danquah Addo-Yobo, reiterated the company’s commitment to continue empowering women farmers through knowledge sharing and the supply of quality crop fertilizers.
He said women with disability who are operating within the agricultural sector are providing encouragement and sending a strong message about their potentials, “the message from the group is that disability does not mean no ability” he stressed in an interview ahead of this year’s event.
He noted, “They are physically challenged in other areas, but they also have the ability to do something, and the fact they have gone into a complicated field like farming actually means if you are physically challenged it does not mean you have no other abilities, so tap into the other abilities that you have.”
With this backdrop and foresight, he said Yara is committed to working with Agrihouse Foundation and other relevant stakeholders to provide the women farmers with incentives and support they need to scale up their efforts.
He, therefore, urged all stakeholder organizations who were present at the two-day event to work towards strengthening their collaborations and partnerships, in line with supporting women operating in the country’s agricultural sector. “My expectation is that we will all be able to use this program as one of many to drive interest, hopefully beyond publicity. As one that will create interest for others to come into the farming business,” he stressed.
Yara is committed to long-term partnerships
He said value chain partnerships are integral components that drive the growth and sustainability of the agric sector, and over the years, Yara Ghana has created the biggest value chain partnership the country; a value chain that has grown to involve more than ten thousand farmers. “from input dealers, to output to farmers, we have built a value partnership that ensures knowledge transfer, improved productivity, and improved business mindset around farming; so that, when the farmers are no longer in that scheme, they are still able to organize themselves with business mindsets that gives that access to finance and market,” he explained.
He said these efforts are the way to go because, as a country, “We need to continue driving sustainable farming,” he stressed. He said the world is changing and Ghana needs to ensure sustainability in our agricultural sector. “This is critical. We need to find partners who think long-term sustainability and no just short-term opportunities to make business,” he stressed.
Yara’s Impacts on the Agric Sector
“We are the pioneers of cocoa fertilizer,” the Director revealed in an interview, “Through extensive research work we did with the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, we came out with the household cocoa fertilizer called Asaasewura. The product has seen significant growth among cocoa farmers who have used it and I dare say that, in periods that Ghana has been able deliver one billion tonnes of cocoa production, statistics available show that Asaasewura has played a significant part in the production growth,” he asserted.
According to Mr. Addo-Yobo, YARA also thrives in the area of knowledge transfer. “We have been running hundreds of demonstration fields, year on year, across the country and we use that as an opportunity to train and educate farmers on best farming practices,” he elaborated. “We have seen that farmers who have adopted those farming practices have been more profitable and (have) improved their productivity.”
He said Yara’s commitment to high standards is not limited to their products alone; the company also ensures a high standard of Healthy and Safety for their staff, suppliers and customers along the production process, “Yara also has a strong Ethics and Compliance culture underpinned by their commitment to keeping high standards in all they do,” he said.
He stressed, YARA will continue to collaborate with research bodies such as the Crop Research Institute of Ghana and others, to undertake more scientific trials aimed at evolving cost-effective crop nutrition protocols and programmes for Ghanaian farmers, which will contribute significantly to improved yields and profits for the farmer.
Yara’s ‘FarmGo’ Weather App
YARA has invested in FarmerWeather App known as FarmGo, which has been designed to help farmers predict weather conditions accurately; which will also enable them plan their farming activities, to maximize their time to ensure more productivity.
According to Regional Director, the FarmWeather APP, would help farmers to get ahead of the weather by getting free forecasts, “It gives daily, weekly and hourly forecasts to enable farmers plan their farm activities, anywhere they are,” he said. The App, he noted, can be downloaded and used on all smart phones, at the comfort of the farmer.
“When we launched it this year, we were expecting to have about 2,500 downloads to end the year and then build up from there; today we have about 10, 000 farmers that have downloaded the app. We are very encouraged. This is our show of support to our farmers.”
Yara-led Sustainable Soya beans Production Project
He said YARA has also launched the ‘Sustainable Soya beans Production in Northern Ghana,’ Project, which underscores the importance of soya production in the Northern region; how it influences food security and the regions poultry sector.
“It is a four year project being supported by NORAD, a Norwegian fund. We expect that in the four years, we will reach at least a 100, 000 soya farmers. It is a value chain approach, so we are working with aggregators, processors, and the poultry industry. Just as we have been able to build the pre-harvest project we Agrihouse, we want to build the project that will create sustainability after the four years,” he said. The project will address the challenges farmers in the sector are often confronted with including poor agronomic practices, which have negatively affected yields. Mr. Addo-Yobo, has therefore encouraged soya processors and farmers to take advantage of the project.
4th WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Awards
As key sponsors of this year’s Women in Food and Agric leadership Training Forum and the Gold in the Soil Awards, Yara played active roles in the success of the two-day event. The Regional Sales Manager, Mr. Issaka Osman, and Brand Manager, Madam Sabina served as mentors and trainers at the event, educating the women on best farming practices, which can guarantee them healthy crops and maximum yields. They also touched on topics including, ‘appropriate fertilizer application methods, developing a brand and creating a niches within the agric space as an agribusiness.’ in brief interviews, they praised Agrihouse Foundation for organizing a successful event, and highlighted how the women farmers were keen to learn and grow their knowledge during the training forum.
This year, the ‘Gold in the Soil Awards’ received a total of eight-two (82) nominations, from the Western and Western North region. Fifty-two women comprising of both western and western-north nominees were shortlisted and documented for the awards documentary produced by Agrihouse Foundation. The documentary tells the inspiring stories of the agriwomen; it highlights their journey over the year, the successes and impacts they continue to chalk and establish in their lives and communities. It shows how they are overcoming the challenges they face as agriwomen and they support they need to scale-up their activities.
A breakdown of this year’s nominations revealed that for the first time in four years the, ‘Super Woman Farmer Award Category’ committed to recognizing Ghanaian women farmers with disabilities received significant entries, with fifteen nominations. The list includes Ten-year-old Esther Ofori who resides in Dzatokrom, in the Sewti Wiawso District of the Western North region. At the event, Esther was honored for her bravery and determination to find her passion and continue her education, in spite of her physical challenges. Other nominees recognized and honored in the category included: Rebbecca Aidoo, Joyce Asante, Agathor Bosompim, Joyce Quarteng, Rose Mensah, Afua Kunado, Joyce Agyei Sakyiwaa, Rebbecca Asamoah, Akosua Nyarko, Ophelia Ackah, Akosua Addei, Akua Atta and Maame Yaa. Women who won in the remaining categories were:
The Passion for Farm Award— Esi Akyere, from Western Region. The award recognizes an individual woman who is excited and passionately about agribusiness and contributing to the growth of her community, creating jobs, mentoring girls in the community and supporting them to take up agric, either small scale and large scale.
She Innovates Award— Matcom Company situated in the Western-North Region. This award goes to a woman who has or is working with the power of innovation and adding value to her agro business. She Identified a challenge within the community and the value chain and found a solution through innovation. It could be adding value to a product, through processing or identifying a creative means of preservation or developing an appropriate technology to provide a particular solution.
Climate Smart Women Project Award— Mary perpetua Kwakuyi, from Western Region. This award provides recognition for the efforts of a group of women or a woman-led organization, implementing an outstanding project in agriculture by adopting a climate smart approach and practices, that supports in the transformation, development and is sustainably increasing agricultural productivity in the community. This project must be seen to be solving a real challenge and create tangible results
Outstanding Woman in Extension Services Award— Eva Adu, from Western Region. This award provides recognition to women, either in the public or private sector, contributing effortlessly through training, capacity building, advocacy, to encourage the adaptation of best practices by farmers, thereby contributing significantly to the empowerment and socio-economic development of the society and the country as a whole.
Royal Agro Award— Ekua Badu, from Western Region. Through this award, we identify a traditional leader (Queen mother), who is into agriculture herself and her personal commitment to see women in agriculture in her community develop and thrive, is helping them in all ways possible through access to land, training, social impact programs and advocacy.
Diamond in the Rough Award— Abena Asantewaa, from Western Region. This award goes to a generational role model, making waves at the background within her community, an unsung heroine, who has indeed mentored and made great strides for her family, her people and the community as a whole.
Feed to Foods Award— Edna Ama Mensah, from Western Region. This is to a woman with great determination and integrity who has continuously demonstrated a positive role in poultry and livestock and has an unwavering commitment to succeed in this sector. This person should have made a series of significant selfless contributions with a long-lasting benefit to the Livestock, Poultry or Fisheries sector.
Change Champion Award— Marian Ofori Twumasi, from Western-North Region. This category goes to the professional corporate woman, whose ongoing effort, passion for her job, contribution and dedication to her work in the agro space, is contributing significantly to corporate internal change, whiles making a national impact.
Development Partner Award— Global Affairs Canada. This award recognizes the efforts of an International organization, whose works centres on agriculture and in particular, towards the development of women in the community, encouraging to adopt best practices, whiles adding value.
Lady of the Export Region Award— Georgina Filson, from Westen Region. This category recognizes and rewards the region’s most successful and innovative woman exporter, with regards to the size of the business and the export sales.
Star Woman Agripreneur Award— Rosemond Afua Afful, from Western Region. This special recognition goes out to an outstanding agribusiness beginning young lady, in any field of agriculture. This young lady should be seen to be excelling (ie, efficiency in service delivery, income performance,) in her field and already a great role model, mentoring other young girls in her community.
Princess Carla Award— Monica Nwiah, from Western Region. This award recognizes the efforts of a dedicated woman, whose works and role affects communities positively; touching lives, mentoring, role modelling, advising, counselling and enhancing networks for other women, both young and old.
Madam Evelyn Andoh Wins Ultimate ‘Gold in the Soil Award’
The 63-year farmer from Wassa Akutuase in the Wassa East District was crowned the Queen of the “Gold in the Soil Award.” In her documentary, she revealed she farms a 128-acre farmland, consisting of Cocoa, plantain, palm nut, yam, Cocoyam, goat, sheep, poultry, rice, maize She took home a tricycle, three Knapsack sprayers, 20 boxes of fertilizers, six Wellington booths, three Lamps, T-shirt, 15 packs of Maize seeds, 20 bottles of weedicide, a plaque and Certificate. The Gold in the Soil Award is awarded to an agriwoman producing along the entire agricultural value chain (from production through processing, branding to marketing etc). Exporting her products would be an added advantage. Her establishment/business should have made a recognizable impact on her community.
In his congratulatory remarks to all the women, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Yaw Frimpong Addo, said government is committed to investing in the sector to sustain the development and progress of Ghanaian women in the agric space. “I want each one of you to know that you are significant contributors of agriculture. I congratulate you all for your incredible achievements as you receive Gold in the Soil Awards today, especially to the 15 women farmers living with disabilities, who have shown that your challenges does not limit your potentials. Continue to invest in your efforts and be assure that we all as stakeholders are here support you.”