Women have always been an important part of agriculture, says the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), but they are not seen in the limelight.
Lately, the advancement in technology has projected some of these women as they tell their stories, which has attracted some younger ones to also go into agriculture.
Majority of the women in agriculture are determined and want other women, particularly young women, to see themselves in their images and see their possibilities.
“As an empowered woman in agriculture, we should see our great potential to empower others,” a women agric entrepreneur, Naa Adobea Torkonoo, said in interview on March 6, 2020, ahead of the commemoration of the international women’s day (March 9, 2020).
Capturing them young
She said it was not just about agriculture but helping to raise a new breed of agricultural professionals (youth).
Naa Adobea, who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Farmer Torks Greeneries, explained that her organisation was passionate about the environment and people, particularly children, because they learn best when all their senses are engaged.
Consequently, it has been gardening / working with children as young as those in nursery, primary and junior high school to grow their own vegetables such as tomatoes, pepper, cucumber and carrots.
She said eating what they had grown gave them a sense of pride and helped them to know the importance of eating healthy food, which was essential for their growth.
“Gardening offers a great opportunity to teach children about responsibility when they have to take care of their seeds. It also helps team work and builds leadership skills as they are given the responsibility to ensure that their plants grow up well as leaders of their group,” she said.
She said for the past six years, about 200 children in 15 schools had benefited from the gardening programme and that this year their aim was to diversify into flowers and herbs.
“We did a voluntary work for the Kasoa Experimental School and now teachers say that pupils who hitherto had no confidence have found a sense of belonging through the gardening initiative. We should not underestimate what the children can do but open them up to agric,” she stated.
''Gardening offers a great opportunity to teach children about responsibility when they have to take care of their seeds. It also helps team work and builds leadership''
Naa Adobea noted that Ghana had a massive youth resource that could be tapped to aid agricultural reforms so that the country could keep pace with changing global economy, yet their participation was not encouraging, coupled with an ageing agric population.
“The disinterest of the youth in agriculture is because they don’t see it as attractive and lucrative. The agric sector has enough prospects to offer decent livelihoods to the youth, so they should be motivated to take up farming and farm related businesses,” she said.
She urged Ghanaians to consider youth involvement in agriculture as important to reforms in the sector aimed at improving productivity.
She appealed to the government, individuals and the private sector to assist less endowed schools with resources, logistics and knowledge to make gardening more attractive and less expensive.
According to her, one does not need a wider space to conceive the idea of growing plants at home.
“Sometimes it is expensive for people to buy pots to even plant a flower. However, you can recycle items such as old car tyres, mineral water bottles and gallons (those we refer to as Kufuor gallon) to kick start your gardening,” she pointed out.
She said currently plastic bottles and plastic bags were the most prevalent form of pollution found on our beaches and around our homes, “so if we encourage schoolchildren to use such bottles to plant their favourite vegetables, it would go a long way to reduce the harm on the environment.”
Women in Agric
Women generally play a key role from production to distribution and marketing, and make up about 40 per cent of farm labour force, states the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Many of them are into food production and are considered repositories of knowledge on cultivation, processing and preservation of crop variety
The Women in Agriculture Development Directorate (WIAD) is a technical directorate under the MOFA and exists to address specific gender issues in agriculture.
It is primarily responsible for policy formulation; developing and implementation of policies which are beneficial to women farmers and agro-processors in the rural, suburban and urban communities.
It has always maintained that women in agriculture are important to the entire agriculture value chain and should be enabled to benefit more equally from the allocation of resources.
Consequently, WIAD also carries out new product / recipe development and sensory evaluation on new crops and this has given a lot of women businesses in the sector.
Soybean, for example, has been promoted so much and some have added it to gari and they are self-reliant now.