This week, MEDA presented the GROW project at both the Partners Forum and Farmers Forum, events organized by a special delegation from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development (DFATD) of Canada. The first event gave DFATD-funded partners, like MEDA, a chance to share information and network, and the second provided a closer look at how development projects were affecting government and farmers at the local level. Some of the notable members of the delegation included Paul Rochon, Deputy Minister of International Development, Christopher Thornley, Canadian ambassador to Ghana, and Kenneth Neufeld, Regional Director of DFATD.
At the Partners Forum Tuesday, February 4, MEDA was one of three panelists selected to present the project to the Canadian delegation and the 17 other development agencies represented. In MEDA’s presentation, Catherine Sobrevega, Country Project Manager, highlighted market links strategies and key successes and challenges from the first year. Sobrevega’s presentation received a great deal of interest and many attendees approached her afterwards. She added that “[Other projects] like GROW and they like MEDA’s business approach.” During the day-long meeting, partners were able to learn more about how specific projects fit into larger development strategy, network with other attendees, and discuss DFATD’s vision for development in Ghana.
The following day, several members of the MEDA GROW staff traveled to Bolgatanga to attend the Farmers Forum where they joined Baala Ajara, a GROW farmer, and the director of PRUDA (MEDA’s local partner), Nuotoo Amatus. The forum focused on the work of individual farmers, and the effect of the project at a micro level. Beyond MEDA’s presentation on the success of many farmers, Baala was specifically recognized by the delegation for her outstanding work and being named the best soybean farmer in her district. Afterwards, she said she would have a great deal to share with her farming group and community. “If you work hard, this is what you’ll get. It’s very motivating for me to continue.” Nuotoo also was very pleased with the event. “We got the opportunity to speak and share our work with high-level people in the Ghana government – these connections wouldn’t have happened otherwise… it means a lot for PRUDA.”
Throughout the morning partners were able to learn from each other’s successes, difficulties, and the future of DFATD aid in northern Ghana. The Canadian delegation noted a continued emphasis on value chain development and support of local government services, and Canada’s Deputy Minister of International Development Rochon summed it up saying, “we love this country, and we’re going to stay in this country.”
The MEDA GROW staff was appreciative of the forums. They helped them understand and coordinate with other development programs in Northern Ghana, share their own work, and continue to strengthen their relationship with DFATD partners. It was Sobrevega’s first time to the Partners Forum and thought it was great for MEDA’s development. She added that “[Both forums] brought a lot of visibility to MEDA’s GROW Project. [DFATD] was happy to hear about GROW’s progress and the rest of the partners wanted to know more about our project for possible collaboration.”
MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) is an international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty. Founded in 1953, we partner with the poor to start or grow small and medium-sized businesses in developing regions around the world. Our expertise includes a full range of economic development tools including financial services, improved technology, business training, better access to markets and equity investment. Our work most often focuses on women, youth and the rural poor. We believe that all people deserve the opportunity to earn a livelihood and that unleashing entrepreneurship is a powerful way to alleviate poverty.
PRUDA (Partnerships for Rural Development Action) is an NGO based in Piina, in the Upper West. It was founded in 2007, with a mission to “sustainably harness local human development energies and natural resources, and focus them on our socio-cultural, economic and political priorities.” They have worked on a variety of initiatives, focusing on food security, microenterprise, and primary health services.
MEDA’s GROW (Greater Rural Opportunities for Women) project in the Upper West Ghana partners with local NGOs to improve food security by helping women grow more nutritious food, adopt simple irrigation systems to increase their yields and connect with markets. Women are learning better farming techniques, enjoying greater food security and a better variety of nutritious food, and gaining awareness of the benefits of a safe and nutritious diet.
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