Mobilising to create sustainable markets for women farmers

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The recent 4th Women Food and Agricultural leadership training Forum and Gold in the Soil Awards, organised by Agrihouse Foundation in Takoradi, among other integral sessions, made room for a panel conversation that allowed the women farmers present to highlight challenges they are grappling with in their respective districts and communities. Their concerns touched on issues including: inappropriate farming methods, practices, and their effect on sustainable farming, access to funds and ready market; lack of warehouse, storage facilities, and cost of transportation at supply and delivery points.

They also touched on issues relating to Fulani herdsmen, elephant invasions, illegal small-scale mining activities destroying farmlands, as well as unfovourable land tenure systems that are depriving women opportunities to own lands in their localities.

In relation to challenges linked to fertiliser accessibility and application, they called on key stakeholders in the industry to provide more support; and in response, the Country Manager of Eco Index Agro Solutions Limited, Mr. Daniel Baisie, has noted that the Aco Index Agro Solutions Limited is committed to providing Ghanaian women in agriculture with subsidised organic inputs, including seeds.

In an interview, Mr. Baisie said over the years, Eco Index Agro Solutions has been on the grounds across the country, mobilising and empowering women farmers with training and mentorships that seek to build their capacity in consistent healthy food production in and around their communities.

“Our training and capacity-building engagements go a long way to help our women farmers conserve and protect natural resources, promote biodiversity, among others, which guarantees them year-round cropping as far as business in agriculture in concerned.”

He said their activities with women farmers also ensure and contribute to food security and safe foods. They undertake “Specialised trainings ranging from soil conservation practices to building healthy soils and proper crop rotation, where the women are taught how to conserve moisture content in their soils, as well as pest control measures.”

Touching specifically on the current roles women farmers with disabilities are playing in moving the country’s agricultural sector forward, Mr. Daniel Baisei applauded the women for their incredible contributions to the agricultural space, “they are doing a fantastic work and are very well-appreciated,” he said.

He noted that in recognising and celebrating their efforts, government and all agric stakeholders in the country must work together to create more market opportunities for them. He said the availability of markets, such as the school feeding programme and government supply of food to the defense and security sector would ensure consistent patronage of their produce.

“Priority should be given to them, which would motivate disabled women to see themselves as needed and important to the nation when it comes to food and agriculture. I hope that in the next two to five years, we will see significant developments, where women farmers with disabilities would be playing key roles in food processing, and being recognised in national food and agriculture awards like the Farmers’ Day celebrations,” he added.

He praised Agrihouse Foundation for investing in an initiative that continues to support the growth and development of agriwomen in the country, adding that, the theme of this year’s event, ‘AGRI WOMAN: RECOVER-GROW-STAND-OUT’ propelled the management of Eco Index Agro Solutions to come on board as sponsor of the two-day event, supporting the women farmers with bottles of fertilisers. “The prime aim of the event, as the name indicates, ignited Eco Index to think of ways we can assist and help our women in food and agriculture. We aim to use our efforts to bridge the gabs created in the agric sector at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the fertilisers we have provided is our way of supporting our woman in agriculture, and encourage them to continue unleashing their potentials,” he said.

He noted Eco Index is passionate about supporting women farmers because women have stronger passion when it comes to working with their hands and mind. “Our women are fundamental responsibility of taking care of the home and providing our food, selling to make money to take care of other financial responsibilities.

Highlighting the major roles Eco Index Agro Solutions Limited has been playing in the agricultural space, he said the company has been in existence for the past 5 years. Ghana being the Headquarters of the organisation, they have outlets in West Africa, Central Africa, South Africa, the Caribbean, Latin, and South America. The company, he said, is in the production of organic inputs, imports, and supplies such as organic liquid fertilisers, bio-pesticides, pelleted and substance-based organic fertilisers and the two main types of Mycorrhizas.

The company has a 500-acre farmland in the Volta Region purposely for organic food production for the local and export markets, with other established facilities like organic fertiliser processing factory and root/tuber processing units. The company is into training and capacity-building, research in organics; environmental affects assessments, arable land reclamation and addressing biodiversity and climate variation issues.

4th WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil 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 fertiliser application methods, developing a brand and creating a niches within the agric space as an agribusiness’. In brief interviews, they praised Agrihouse Foundation for organising 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 Regions. Fifty-two women comprising of both western and western-north nominees were short-listed 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 the 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 recognising 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 Sefwi Wiawso District of the Western North region.  At the event, Esther was honoured for her bravery and determination to find her passion and continue her education, in spite of her physical challenges. Other nominees recognised and honoured 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 recognises an individual woman who is excited and passionate 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 perpetual Kwakuyi from Western Region. This award provides recognition for the efforts of a group of women or a woman-led organisation, implementing an outstanding project in agriculture by adopting a climate smart approach and practices that support in the transformation and 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, and is helping them in all ways possible through access to land, training, social impact programmes 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, and is contributing significantly to corporate internal change, while making a national impact.

Development Partner Award— Global Affairs Canada. This award recognises the efforts of an International organisation whose works centres on agriculture, and particularly toward the development of women in the community, encouraging to adopt best practices while adding value.

Lady of the Export Region Award— Georgina Filson from Westen Region. This category recognises and reward the regions’ 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 woman should be seen to be excelling (i.e., efficiency in service delivery, income performance) in her field, and is already a great role model, mentoring other young girls in her community.

Princess Carla Award— Monica Nwiah from Western Region. This award recognises 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, and maize.  She took home a tricycle, three Knapsack sprayers, 20 boxes of fertilisers, 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 recognisable 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 Award’ today, especially to the 15 women farmers living with disabilities who have shown that your challenges do not limit your potentials. Continue to invest in your efforts and be assure that we all, as stakeholders, are here support you.”

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