The socio-economic throes of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to bite hard with no end in sight yet.
As it has been opined widely by economic experts, life must continue nonetheless to prevent businesses from withering away.
For an important sector like agriculture, this position is even more crucial and must be acted on quickly.
The stark reality of how weak our food buffer system is was evident to all when panic buying instigated spike in prices amid fears that the national lockdown introduced at the onset of the pandemic was to last.
While the chaotic scramble for food supplies has since abated, the months and years ahead look anything but certain.
This means key stakeholder within and without the agriculture industry in particular must fashion out creative and relevant interventions that will not only boost capacity but also instigate productivity.
At the second edition of the WOMEN IN FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL LEADERSHIP FORUM & EXPO (WOFAGRIC 2020) and the GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS scheduled for the Golden Bean Hotel, Kumasi from Thursday 6th to Friday 7th August, 2020 in the Ashanti region, key actors in the agriculture value chain will among other things bequeath a blueprint to women industry actors on how to survive the COVID -19 onslaught.
The agri-house Foundation Initiative themed: “Transforming and Sustaining Women in Agriculture: The Role of Public, Private and Development Partners, seeks to recognize the contribution of women in the Agricultural sector, support their innovations and empower other women to venture into the sector.
The event’s goal is to bring to the fore the immense contribution of women and offer a platform where the excellence of the Agri-woman is acknowledged and rewarded.
It would also serve as a means of narrowing the gender inequality gap in the agriculture sector through networking opportunities and tailor –made capacity building sessions.
In furtherance of its commitment to the promotion of the industry, Yara Ghana, a leading player in the fertilizer industry is aboard the project as both sponsor and facilitator.
Yara will be leading two Training and capacity building sessions, designed to equip participants with crucial skills that will help them thrive despite the uncertainty that currently pervades the business world due to the covid-19 pandemic through topics like “Giving women farmers support to enhance their productivity and market the food they produce through e-commerce channels “and “Effective ways for women in agriculture to increase their ability to produce food for their communities during covid-19 and beyond”
An interesting feature of the event dubbed: Gathering of the Royals will see ten queen mothers from four regions deliberate and discuss issues on:-Advancing women entrepreneurship – Empowering women and advancing gender equality and -Support in breaking down gender stereotype, whiles building economic independence and security
This innovative feature set to be moderated by Absa Ghana gives opportunity to women community leaders to share their rich experience garnered over the years with participants. This will embolden participants who are already acquainted with the industry and further inspires recent entrants into the industry.
The topics to be handled by Yara are relevant to the events of the times and have been designed by organizers to equip women with the requisite support to enhance their productivity and market the food they produce through e-commerce channels. This will help women take advantage of the increasing e-commerce proliferation as a means of making more income for their enterprises.
Similarly, the session set to be led by Yara will examine and proffer effective ways for women in agriculture to significantly boost their capacity to produce food for the market now and after the prevailing pandemic-COVID -19.
Activities lined up for the event this year include: Leadership Training, Mentorship & Guidance Dialogue, Panel Discussion on Key Issues affecting women in Agribusiness, Focused Training programmes for women seeking to venture into agriculture, Empowerment Talk, Exhibitions, Documentary and Awards (Gold in the Soil Awards)
Key topics to be explored include: Assessing and understanding the challenges and opportunities for women in Agriculture, Identity – Access and Appraisal for obtaining credit or loan- Value Chain Optimizations, How can women build long-term resilience in future crisis through sustainable mechanization and Technology?, Giving women farmers support to enhance their productivity and market the food they produce, through e-commerce channels, How do we ensure that the primary drivers of the sector – the smallholder women farmers – are included and empowered, and their economic outcomes enhanced? among other captivating topics.
The GOLD IN THE SOIL AWARDS component of the event will primarily pay tribute women trailblazers who have made outstanding impact as corporate leaders, innovators, extension officers, climate-smart agric champions and traditional leaders.
A documentary on detailing the undertakings and impact of selected women will be produced and subsequently aired on TV and social media platforms to showcase the works of these women-after which an award ceremony, will be rolled –out to honor them.
The Awards are spread across fourteen (14) categories to reward as many women as possible who have excelled in their enterprise.
Passion for the Farm Awards
The award recognizes a 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, both small scale and large scale – it’s the passion that is central. This award cuts across crop farmers, vegetable farmers, livestock, and fisheries farmers.
This goes to a woman who has or is working with the power of innovation and adding value to her agro business. She identifies a challenge within the community and the value chain and finds 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
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
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.
The Super Woman Farmer Award
This special category goes to a physically challenged woman, whose role, works and passion for agriculture, is contributing largely to community development, food security, poverty alleviation, job creation and economic growth in the Agric sector.
Star Woman Agripreneur Award (Woman Agripreneur Award)
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. Royal Agro Award
This award is set aside for 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
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 Food Awards – (Poultry, Livestock & Fisheries)
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.
The Change Champion Award
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.
Lady of the Region Export Award
This category recognizes and rewards the regions most successful and innovative woman exporter, with regards to the size of the business and the export sales.
Development Partner Award
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.
Princess Carla Award
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
This Award recognizes an exceptional female into operation management and maintenance of tractor services. She should be earning income from this trade and imparted her community with her skill.
Gold in the Soil Award
This is the ultimate Award. The award seeks to appreciate the outstanding achievements of a woman 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.
The awards are open to women aged 18 and above from every district in Ghana. There can be direct entries or one could be nominated by friends or family by filling in an application form online at: [email protected], [email protected] or submitted at the ofﬁces of Agrihouse Foundation. Full details can also be found on www.agrihousefoundation.com
Impact so far
Agri-house Foundation and her organizing partners have come a long way since the maiden edition in 2019.
About 43 women have so far made inroads into full time commercial farming or made attempts to expand the capacity of their business owing to the experience garnered at WOFAGRIC 2109.
Almost a quarter of the nominees for the Gold in the Soil Awards made entries into the National Best Farmers Award Scheme at district, regional and national levels with about 7 of them winning laurels at the district and regional levels whilst 2 of them picked up awards at the National awards.
The effective book-keeping drills participants were introduced to has yielded fruits. A post- event assessment carried out 3 months after the event last year revealed that a significant number of women present at the event in 2019 have now been able to access loan facilities to support their farms and businesses.
Information and guidance provided by the Netherlands embassy and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) equipped some of the women farmers on the standard procedures, best practices and proper documentation tips to export their produce. So far about 13 women have begun processes leading to their ability to begin exportation.
The role modeling and mentoring sessions created business networking opportunities for attendees. Some of the mentees have had their mentors evaluate their business models and periodically give business advice to these women who are being mentored at no fee.
This year’s event is supported by Canada, Absa, Yara, OCP , Brown Gi, Ministry of food and Agriculture (MOFA), Women in Agric Development (WIAD), and the National Farmers and Fishermen Award Winners Association of Ghana (NFFAWAG).
The Yara Commitment
Since venturing into Ghana over a decade ago, Yara has been importing and supplying high quality products for various crop areas such as cereals, vegetables, cocoa, etc.
Today, the company has an expansive nationwide distribution network, which affords her the leverage of offering technical support for farmers all over the country in addition to providing the best input for the Ghanaian farmer.
With a central goal that is hinged on a desire to be a global leader in sustainable agriculture and environmental solutions, the company neve passes the chance to support worthy initiatives that seek to uplift the local agric industry.
Yara’s commitment to the agric sector is laudable. In-fact the company has supported nearly every worthwhile initiative that has sought to place farmers on a better footing since it began operations a decade ago. From WOFAGRIC to the annual Pre-harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibition, Yara is always supporting initiatives that have proven vital to the growth and development of agriculture in Ghana.
Yara has literally revolutionized the fertilizer industry in Ghana by introducing its Crop Nutrition Concept which focuses on crop knowledge, portfolio combinations and application competence. These three pillars are key in helping Ghanaian farmers optimize profitability in a sustainable manner instead of the blanket application of fertilizers which had previously been the practice.
As part of its commitment to the industry, Yara Ghana has been making the results of its yearly research work done together with key agricultural research institutes like Crop Research Institute (CRI), Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) and Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) available to other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain through its yearly publication of results of its Trials and Demonstrations. This helps stakeholders plan
As part of its commitment to ensuring a mutually beneficial partnership with its retail and distribution partners, Yara has recently launched its Channel Partner Programme at Bolgatanga in the Upper-East Region.
The programme according to management of Yara Ghana is a unique programme initiated by the company to provide a number of incentives and support to its key distribution and retail partners in order to help them deliver value-added service and the Yara quality fertilizers to farmers.
Dubbed ‘Partnering for Growth’, some customers have been selected onto the maiden programme, which is expected to become expansive in the years ahead. Through the Channel Partner Programme, Yara hopes that the programme will create an effectual linkage that will guarantee success for its Crop Nutrition distribution system which is ultimately aimed at farmers.
One of Agri-house Foundations headline initiatives, the event this year has significantly influncerd by the covid-19 pandemic –with topics designed to mitigate the effects on women in the agri-value chain.
As a measure of precaution, this year’s event is set to be held under stringent Covid-19 safety protocols to ensure that all participants are safe.
Agri-house and her partners are extremely confident that the event will provide the needed spark for women agri-preneurs to rise to the occasion and succeed despite the fallout of the covid-19 pandemic .The broader expectation is that the effort women put into the agric sector will be brought to the fore and help attract long due support.