Business News of Thursday, 13 June 2019
Executive Director of Agri House Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, has opined that an investment in women in agriculture would propel the growth of Ghana’s economy.
She detailed that women who form majority of the country’s active population employed in the agricultural sector needed to undergo capacity building programmes and training to enhance their expertise, and given financial support which would consequently stimulate an increase in food production in the West African country.
She added that “successive agricultural development strategies over the years have focused on modernizing the sector and positioning it as a major vehicle for the structural transformation of the economy through effective linkage to industry. This potential will, however, remain a mirage if we do not hasten to rapidly reverse the ‘unsung heroine’ status currently ascribed to our industrious women”.
Madam Akyaa Akosa was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Women in Food and Agriculture Leadership Forum and Expo, 2019 (WOFAGRIC’19) held in Ho in the Volta Region, under the theme “Women Key Partners in Shaping Agribusiness”.
She stated that WOFAGRIC’19 which is the brainchild of her organization aims to develop the skills and knowledge of women in agriculture by providing them a common platform to network, share ideas, train, empower, discuss pertinent issues and promote their product and services.
Madam Akyaa Akosa also advocated the adoption of a “solid affirmative action roadmap” to safeguard the interest of women in agriculture and ensure they equitably benefit from the gains of the agriculture sector.
She enumerated equal representation of women in decision making, networking of rural women’s organization, support for investment in rural areas to improve their living and working conditions and feminization of agriculture to form the core of the affirmative action roadmap, to achieve the desired results.
“Feminization of agriculture simply refers to women’s increasing participation in the agricultural labour force, whether as independent producers, as unremunerated family workers or as agricultural wage workers”, she explained.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Sidalco Group of Companies, Rev. Dr Gifty Lamptey underscored that Africa can not meet its food demand if women remain sidelined in the participation of agribusiness.
She expressed fear the continent’s food import bill which is estimated to grow to US$ 35 billion per year by 2025 would have “negative consequences on macroeconomic and fiscal stability” if leaders fail to unlock the full potential of the continent’s agribusiness.
“In my many years of experience in agribusiness as a woman, I have observed very little help for women in the field – financially and technically,” she said.
Rev Dr Lamptey added that women in agriculture must be given the push to occupy leadership positions and larger percentages of farmlands across the country.
She also advocated for the establishment of crop processing and agro-industry zones in rural areas coupled with the needed infrastructure to create produce market and reduce the high post-harvest losses in the rural areas.
This she believes would “turn rural areas from zones of economic misery to new zones of economic prosperity”.
The First Secretary at the High Commission of Canada to Ghana, Marie-Claude Harvey, lauded women for their immense contribution to food production in Ghana.
She indicated that her country would continue to partner government and other organizations to advance gender equality and introduce programs that would address social and economic challenges through the agricultural sector.
Miss Harvey outlined that a Canadian support program saw the training of extension officers which benefited 2.5 million farmers of which 1 million were women.