WOMEN farmers in the Northern Region are among 35,000 smallholder farmers who are being supported by an agricultural initiative aimed at increasing their productivity and improving their incomes. The Agricultural value-Chains Mentorship Project (AVCMP) is an initiative of the Alliance for Agricultural Revolution in Africa (AGRA) With funding support from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA). It is being implemented by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) in Nyankpala, International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC) and Ghana Agricultural Associations for Business Information Centre (GAABIC). The initiative also seeks to address some of the problems that hinder crop production in the Northern Region, such as low soil fertility, poor agronomic practices, lack of markets and lack of capacity for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) involved in the value chains.
The President of AGRA, Mrs Jane Karuku, paid a visit to some of the project sites of AGRA in the NR and interacted with some of the women farmers who are benefiting from the programme at Naha in the Tolon District.
One of them, Mma Adama Fuseini, who cultivates maize, rice and yam, said prior to the commencement of the project, they were using traditional methods of planting rice, such as broadcasting of the seeds but the AVCMP had now introduced them to better ways of cultivating rice and maize. “They told us that the best way to grow the rice is not to throw the seeds onto the farmland haphazardly, but to use the line and spacing method,” she explained in her the local Dagbani dialect. “When we do the spacing, it makes it easier for us to clear the weeds when they grow and also to enter the farm and apply fertiliser,” she further noted. Mma Adama indicated, however, that the lack of financial support made it difficult for them to continue utilising these new technologies. “We need some credit to buy fertiliser, seeds and chemicals. We also need money to pay for tractor services;’ she explained. Another woman, who supports her husband to cultivate soya, maize and rice on their two-acre farm,,MmaAwabu Alhassan, said the methods that they were introduced to were very good but ‘it is not easy to practise them’
She said it required enough labour to work on the fields to ensure planting of rice and the application fertiliser. Mma Awabu added that access to fertiliser still remained a challenge and, therefore, urged the government to come to their aid. “Sometimes, the crops that grows to some extent and you require more fertilizer but you cannot afford to buy more and so this would affect the yield,” she lamented. She also complained about the erratic rainfall pattern. “This year, for instance, the rains have been inconsistent. When it rains, it takes several days before it rains again.” The AGRA president expressed joy that women farmers were duly captured under the programme. She said progress in agriculture cannot be made without addressing the gender dimensions, considering that most women in rural depended directly on agriculture livelihood. She reiterated AGRA’s commitment initiating and implement innovative programmes that would address constraints to agriculture in Africa.