Women farmers based in the countryside in the country have appealed to the government to institute an agricultural fund to serve their needs financially to increase agricultural production in Ghana.
“Rural women farmers have consistently been overlooked as far as policies to help their needs are concerned, more importantly, it has become so difficult to access agricultural credits to help in farm production,” says Mrs Lydia Sasu, the Executive Director of Development Action Association.
Given that over 70% of Ghana’s agricultural production is done by smallholder farmers, mostly women in the rural areas, there is the need for the government to put in place measures that address the needs of rural women farmers, she adds at the 2014 World Rural Women’s Day celebration at Asuboi in the Eastern Region.
Rural women farmers are actively in the value chain of agricultural production from the production, processing and utilisation of agriculture, playing very critical role in ensuring food security in the country.
Ghana’s problem in the agricultural sector has been making sure farm produce are made available in areas that are needed due to poor infrastructure thus resulting in post-harvest losses.
Rural women farmers in Ghana contribute significantly to food production thereby enhancing food security, yet they are faced with numerous challenges such as finance to increase food production, Mrs Sasu emphasised at the event on the theme, ‘The Role of Rural Women Farmers in Food Security.’
Ghanaian agriculture is overwhelmingly dominated by smallholders located in rural areas, mostly women; many commodities, including cocoa, maize, and cassava, are produced predominantly on small farms. More than 70 percent of Ghanaian farms are 3 hectares (ha) or smaller in size.
Global population in the world is expected to increase to 9 billion people in 2050 with developing countries accounting for two-thirds and about 80 per cent of women engaged in food production thus policies and strategies to increase food production has received lots of international discourse.
Today, humanity is facing two major challenges: the increase in the world’s population, meaning more mouths to feed, and the effects of climate change, Mrs Sasu stressed.
“Rural women are major participants in the struggle to deal with these challenges; they are at the heart of the solutions to these problems, through their direct involvement on the ground,” Sasu noted.
Rebecca Eshun, a fish processor, stated that women in fish processing have come together to meet the fisheries commission to restore the depletion of fish which they face.
“We are in the process of working towards building the resources. It is through this processing that we are able to take care of our children”.
The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in charge of crops, Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, says the government would put in place measures and strategies to assist rural women farmers to ensure that their activities are improved.
He however urged the rural women farmers to always engage the ministry as a group, saying “it is always to difficult and most at times unlikely for the ministry to undertake planned programmes with individuals farmers given the problems associated with it”.
World Rural Women’s Day got its start in 1995 at the UN Conference for Women in Beijing, as a way to honour rural women who make up ¼ of the world’s population. Rural women contribute to the majority of global food production, reaching as high as 80 per cent in Africa and 60 per cent in Asia.
Targets for improvement of the agricultural industry have sadly failed to take this reality into consideration. Despite the impressive contribution to the industry, women receive only 1 per cent of agricultural credit, own only 2 per cent of the agricultural land, and receive only 5 percent of credit extension resources.