The Benaba Women Farmers Association (BEWFA) in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region have appealed to the Electricity Company to connect the national grid to the Africa Development Foundation.
Speaking to the Media at Benaba , the 100 women farmers who have been doing shea nut and groundnut oil extraction as well as rice farming as their means of livelihoods, said as a result of lack of electricity to the facility they could not utilize the shea nut and rice mill processing machines that were purchased for them by the Africa Development Foundation in 1995.
The Project Manager of BEWFA, Ms Victoria Asaaro, said the idea for building the centre with the facilities was to empower the women farmers to be able to utilize the machines to save time spent on oil and butter processing.
She said as there is no electricity at the centre to power the machines they(machines) are going rust and making the farmers suffer as the women have to travel long distances to pick the shea nuts in the bush and get back home late and have to also go through laborious and drudgery ways of processing the nuts.
Madam Talata Akulebisi, one of the famers, said “I sometimes set off at dawn to the bush because of the competition nature of picking the nuts and come back home at 4pm and have to start again processing the nut to prevent them from going bad. If we have electricity we will be able to use the machines and this will reduce our tiredness and time”
Mr Richard Ananga, a Service Provider of BUSAC , said the plight of the women was becoming a worrisome and that was why BUSAC was supporting the Association to get the facility connected to the National grid.
He said Data collected reveals that groundnut oil and shea butter production remains the major source of income for the BEWFA members and that ninety seven of the group members are currently using the manual procession method, while 3 per cent are able to combine both mechanical and manual.
“Members said the tiresome nature of the manual method of production has impeded their ability to produce in large quantities and high quality. As of now, 85% of them are not able to produce above one large bowl per each market day and this has affected their income levels.”
The study also shows that in the past, the group has received different kinds of support including Leadership training, Skills training, Financial and Machinery. These benefits received by the group would require that they stay together to fully explore their opportunities. However, the absence of electricity at the center and their inability to make use of its machines defeats their aim of increasing production to enhance their income levels.
It is recommended that electricity be extended to BWFA and all other rural communities. This will go a long way to create avenues for the growth of small and medium scale enterprises.”