Tamale, Ghana – MEDA – Mennonite Economic Development Associates.
On March 26th, 2015 Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) sponsored five rural women lead farmers from their Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project to attend the 5th Annual Northern Ghana Pre-Season Networking and Planning Forum in Tamale, Northern Region. These women soybean farmers traveled from various communities in Upper West with the Key Facilitating Partner (KFP) staff to participate in the forum and learn about “Smart Technologies for Increased Productivity”. The forum drew value chain actors and development agencies working on soybeans, rice and cornfrom across Ghana.
During a welcome address, Brian Kiger, from United States Agency of International Development’s (USAID) Agriculture Technology Transfer (ATT) Project urged the farmers to “try something new this season” and challenged them to increase their productivity. According to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) to sustain Ghana’s current population growth, Ghana must double its food production by 2030. MEDA’s GROW project, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada (DFATD), is working hard to contribute to this goal. The GROW project aims to assist 20,000 women farmers to grow soybeans by 2018 to increase food security for them and their families in northern Ghana.
The GROW farmers attended presentations and discussions about new technologies, farming best practices, available financial services for small farmers, crop insurance, and information technology services to stay updated with the latest crop prices and weather news. They also had a chance to network with seed suppliers, financial services providers, information technology providers, agro chemical suppliers, and many more private exhibitors to learn about their products. Kutum George from Loggu Communityin Wa EastDistrict in Upper West Region, a GROW lead farmer, said that she “learned the type of seed you need to sow, you need to sow the correct seed to get a better harvest- certified seed.” She also added that she took the contact information from the agro chemical suppliers and seed planter sellers as she plans to contact them before next planting season. Kutum grew one acre of soybeans last year, but hopes to expand her farm to three acres this season.
Another GROW farmer,Sandii Yikpolp from Berinyasifrom Wa West District, felt that she benefited most from learning about conservation agriculture. She explained, “I farm soybeans. What I learned is that you need to start planning early and you don’t need to burn everything in the farm, leave itdusty and use cover crops, so that you fertilize it.” And Sandii added that she was also very interested in the crop insurance for her farm. Sandii, like the other women farmers, is excited to share her new knowledge with the women farmers in her community in hopes that they will all increase their productivity this season.
When squeezing through in the crowded paths to see the exhibitors at the forum it was hard to miss, Abdullai Ayishetu, another GROW women farmerSamoa Community in Lambussie/ KarniDistrict, who was actively engaging with what seemed like all of the exhibitors. She felt that the forum was over all useful to her. Sheexplained: “Actually, I’ve learned a lot. You have to consider your land, the seed, the money that you are going to invest and the timing too. I have learned a lot about these things. And I only knew of Farmerline, I didn’t know there were other organizations apart from them. Today I saw all of them.” She also plans to expand her soybean farm from one acre to one and a half this season. And when Ayishetuwas asked if she would continue growing soybeans even after MEDA’s GROW project ended, she replied with a smile: “Come what may, rain or shine, I will farm soybeans.”With farmers like Ayishetu, Sandii and Kutum trying new methods and expanding their crop productions, it offers hope for food secure future in Ghana.
Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) is an international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty. Founded in 1953 by a group of Mennonite business professionals, 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: 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.
MEDA’s Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) 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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