As part of measures to halt the persistent migration of women to southern Ghana in search of menial jobs, the Jirapa Municipal Assembly in the Upper West region has distributed 100,000 cashew seedlings to deprived women farmers in two communities.
The distribution of the seedlings which is under the Ghana Productive Safety Net Programme is to improve the income levels of the women and also engage them all year-round.
More than 80% of women in the Jirapa Municipality are engaged in peasant farming. However, these women are unable to produce enough to cater for feed themselves and generate income due to erratic rainfall pattern and the unfavorable land tenure system in the municipality.
This has over the years compelled some women in the municipality to travel to the southern part of the country in search of non-existent and sometimes menial jobs.
Available records from the Upper West Regional Department of Women and Children indicate that more 2,000 women migrate from the Jirapa Municipality to southern Ghana every year.
The report further indicates that majority of the women end up working as head porters, otherwise known as ‘Kayayei’ under inhumane conditions. To help change the trend, the Jirapa Municipal Assembly presented 100,000 cashew seedlings freely to the Balantaa and the Nandor-Waala communities.
The cashew industry is expected to fetch Ghana US$ 2.5 billion in the next five years. Government says it has devoted GHȼ 1 billion towards the establishment of the Tree Crop Development Authority that would regulate the cashew industry and revamp that sector to contribute significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The distribution, which is under the Ghana Productive Safety Net Programme, is an initiative to reduce poverty among the poorest of the poor in society; particularly women.
The Municipal Chief Executive for Jirapa, Christine Bamanye Amadu, led the distribution exercise on a 15 hectare land at Balantaa.
These women are engaged on the 15 hectare cashew farm, and each of the over 100 women receives a daily wage of GHS12.00.
Some of them told Citi Business News they have suspended their plans of travelling down south for work.
“This project really helps us a lot. Anytime the dry season comes, we the women have to travel to Kumasi to work on farms. Sometimes women die in the process. With the coming of the project, we will no longer go down south. We will work here and be able to get something for our upkeep. We get soap and clothing even for our children. These and many more are some of the benefits we get from the project,”Nindor Asietu said.
“There are lots of benefits. Just like my colleague said, because there is no work here in the dry season, we are compelled to go down south. Some of us usually get locked there and cannot return home. Some of us will get here late in the farming season when the planting season is over. But with this project, no woman has left the community to travel down south. That is the benefit of this project to us as women,” Diekaayi Mwindor said.