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”.


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