The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, has lauded women for their contribution to agriculture, saying they have distinguished themselves in food production, processing and family nutrition.
He said even though there were about equal number of men and women in agriculture, available statistics indicated that women produced about 80 per cent of the total food output.
This was contained in a speech he delivered at the 37th Conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation underway in Rome, Italy.
Mr Ahwoi said in his speech obtained by GNA that Ghanaian women were solely responsible for their families’ daily nutrition.
The Minister said Ghana, with support from its development partners, was strengthening its institutional capacity to develop and implement policies that adequately addressed gender issues, adding that this was designed to increase women’s productivity in agriculture.
He said the Directorate of Women in Agriculture and Development of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture was collaborating with the Nutrition Department of the Ministry of Health to improve nutrition knowledge of rural women.
Mr Ahwoi said the government was working hard to position the country as the “Bread Basket” of West Africa through her accelerated modernization and commercialization of agriculture, with women empowerment and re-orientation from subsistence production to market-oriented production.
The Minister said the Ghana strategy, which was consistent with the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) of the African Union, had as its implementation tool the Medium Term Agricultural Sector Investment Plan (METASIP, 2011-2015).
“The METASIP is based on a well-coordinated strategy of land development with associated mechanization of farm activities, improved seed adoption, increased fertilizer use, increased irrigation, water and sustainable land management and enhanced post-harvest management.”
Mr Ahwoi said the emphasis of the strategy was to reduce the drudgery in agriculture and to improve productivity.
“At the centre of the strategy is the empowerment of small, medium and large scale farmers (with emphasis on women farmers) to enable them to acquire and use appropriate modern technologies to make farming in Ghana a business rather than a way of life.”
He said Ghana, with support from its development partners, is strengthening its institutional capacity to develop and implement policies that adequately addressed gender issues, adding that they were designed to increase women’s productivity in agriculture.
Mr Ahwoi said the fleeting numbers of the poor and undernourished in the world today and as projected into the future could not be accepted.
“The cause and solution lie in women empowerment and rural development,” he added.
The Minister said Ghana’s achievements in its food and agricultural development attested to the need for sustained prioritisation and increased investment.
He noted that the progress made by Ghana from 1985 to date had been endorsed by the international community through a number of awards.
Key among them are The Hunger Project’s “1993 Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger”; FAO’s “Agricola Medal 2000” for outstanding efforts in the promotion of sustainable food production and the eradication of poverty; and the recent “2011 World Food Prize” awarded jointly to Ghana’s former President John Agyekum Kufuor and his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for food security and poverty reduction.