UW smallholder women farmers demand 30 percent quota in RFJs

By D.I. Laary, GNA

Wa, Oct. 22, GNA –
Smallholder women farmers in Upper West Regional have expressed worry about low
number of women beneficiaries in the Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ) programme
and called for 30 percent quota for female farmers.

The RFJs scheme was
launched early this year by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to boost
livestock production and provide sustainable income and jobs for local farmers
in rural communities.

Pognaa Mrs Leticia
Tantuo, on behalf of Upper West Regional Smallholder Women Farmers Movement,
said during the celebration of international day of rural women in Wa that the
terms and conditions surrounding some modules were unfavourable to women and
girls into livestock production.

“We demand that a
minimum quota of 30 per cent women should be targeted and selected in
subsequent cycles,” she said. “We also request that the sheep module payment
should be reviewed to permit beneficiaries to pay back 10 sheep within the two
years period”.

Data from the
department of Agriculture shows that 24 percent of the cockerel module and 14
percent of the sheep module are women.

According to Mrs
Tantuo, a first line beneficiary was given 10 sheep and expected to pay back 20
sheep in two years.

“We think the risk
of mortality has not been considered. There is no guarantee that in two years,
there will be surviving offspring up to 20 considering the inadequacy of
veterinary services across the region,” she said.

The day was
observed on theme: “Rural women and girls building climate resilience”.

Mrs Tantuo
presented a four-point policy issues and demands to the Upper West Regional
Coordinating Council and called on authorities to take action that would
protect interest of women farmers.

She said groundnuts
and cowpea as women friendly crops were captured in the Planting for Food and
Jobs (PFJ) crops option, but were still not accessible to women farmers.

The PFJ programme
began with maize, sorghum and rice in 2017, without the inclusion of groundnut
and cowpea, which are predominantly cultivated by women but after series of
engagements, it was added in the 2018 cropping season.

However, Mrs Tantuo
said, the crops were not available in the Upper West region during the 2018 and
2019 cropping seasons.

She said many women
farmers who were interested to cultivate groundnut and cowpea in 2019 had to
change to different crops because of that situation and asked for support to
train and provide seed and technical extension service to women farmers to
become certified groundnut and cowpea seed growers.

Inadequate secured
access to and control over land was listed as barrier to women participation in
agricultural opportunities.

“Because of this,
few women are able to participate in the Planting for Export and Rural
Development (PERD) Programme,” Mrs Tantuo added. “The land access has also been
a hindrance to women participation in the PFJ”.

“We appeal to the
traditional councils to add their voice and take action in influencing land
owners to offer women long-term secured access to land”.

She said there
should be conscious investment to promote organic commercial production and
distribution and hybrid seeds and climate smart agricultural technologies.

“In line with the
One District, One Factory (1D1F) programme, government should facilitate the
establishment of an organic fertilizer production plant within the Savannah
ecological zone to create easy access by farmers,” Mrs Tantuo added.

“The availability
of animal droppings, farm residue and unprocessed waste gives the potential for
this demand”.

President of the
Upper West Regional House of Chiefs, Kuoro Richard Babini Kanton, encouraged fellow
chiefs and landowners to support women to get long term access to and control
of fertile litigation-free lands.

He underscored the
need for women to be given the requisite resources for them to contribute their
quota to the development of their communities and the region at large.

The Upper West
Regional Program Manager of ActionAid Ghana, George Dery, said agriculture
offered employment to over 70 per cent of the working population and had a
comparative advantage in farming.

He touched on the
significant role women played in agriculture, saying: “It is an undisputed fact
that rural women in Ghana constituted 70 per cent of food crop producers with
close to 80 per cent of them also food processors.

“It has also been
revealed that women are important actors in the agricultural value chain, which
begins from production, storage, processing, marketing and distribution”.