West Africa Regional Director of YARA, Mr. Danquah Addo-Yobo, has urged young women who intend to venture into agriculture as a business to seek professional advice before venturing into the sector.
He noted that the agricultural sector offers women many opportunities to grow as entrepreneurs.
As the novel Coronavirus continues to spread and pose a threat to food security, a lot of countries are now deliberately working on ensuring food security, and scaling-up efforts to support families and communities to be more self-reliant.
Speaking during a Familiarization and Courtesy Call organized by Agrihouse Foundation, to allow winners of the recent 3rd Gold in the Soil Awards, interact with sponsors of the event, and express their appreciation, Mr. Danquah Addo-Yobo, said this has created an opportunity for the women to turn to agriculture to create more avenues for employment and food security.
He said women in agriculture should always look out for market opportunities and ways they can expand their business, “your market is not only the area you see. Your market is bigger than your area. Your market is a global market,” he stressed.
He also used the opportunity to commend the women for engaging in risk-management, in the form of mix-crop farming, which he said is one of the best strategies farmers can adopt.
Mix farming, he noted, ensures that the farmer is always in business; because, if one crop farms, there are chances the others will do well and the farmer will not be found wanting at the end of the day.
Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, noted that, this year, the Awards Scheme received 131 nominations from both Upper East and Upper West Region, “to allow more women from culturally diverse backgrounds an opportunity to participate in the awards scheme,” she noted.
During the assessments and breakdown of entries received, she said the Foundation realised that 50% of the entries were from women farmers, farming between 10-65 acres of maize, yam, groundnut, soya beans, vegetables, Bambara beans, millet and sorghum.
32% of the women were largely into Processing, Packaging and marketing of Shea, Neem, Moringa, Boabab, Dawada, groundnut, oils, etc. 15% were into distribution and marketing of Input (seeds, fertilizers, etc) and about 3% of these women were into Tractor and Equipment operating and hiring.
Furthermore, the majority of women farmers who submitted entries were between ages 25-65years, and have been operating their businesses within a period of 2 to 40years, “This for us is a positive signal. It is great to know we have very young women in the Upper East and West Regions, who are taking Agric seriously and contributing to enhancing nutrition and changing livelihoods,” Ms. Akosa said.
At the end of the assessments and breakdown, out of 131 nomination, 45 women were shortlisted and documented on video telling their stories as agri-women. The number was further shortlisted to 14 agri-women who received the Gold in the Soil Awards.
For their part, the Award Winners who were present at the ceremony were given opportunities to express their gratitude to the sponsors of this year’s event, and highlight some challenges they were facing as women farmers, especially in these times. They all highlighted their need for support in the areas of fertilizer supply, mechanization and tractor services, and transportation services.
In 2019, 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 training offered on proper management and book keeping have proven impactful. A follow up evaluation carried out 3 months after each event reveals that, past participants have been able to access loan facilities to support their farms and businesses. Furthermore, 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 how to go documentations to export their produce. This has helped about 13 women to start the process to go into exportation.