Women in Nkwanta earns more income from cassava processing and production

Cassava production and processing in Nkwanta of the Volta Region, have become major sources of income for women in the area considerably raising their wherewithal.

Ms Beatrice Tempong of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Nkwanta-South District Desk Officer of Women In Agriculture told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) during a Research Results Hearing at Nkwanta on the effects of bad roads on gari production in the area.

Ms Tempong, who attributed the phenomenon to the decade old Roots and Tubers Improvement and Marketing Project (RTIMP) in the area, said women’s contribution to the family budget was growing and their stake in society firmer.

The Research was under the aegis of the Northern Volta Gari Processors Association (NOVOGAP) with support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund.

Ms Tempong said the RTIM, besides improving farming methods, introduced better cassava species to the farmers, organized cassava processors into production gangs and gave them marketing skills.

She said the cassava, an all-year-round root crop, had an important stake in the economic life of the people in the area, which had transitional vegetation and adequate rains.

Mr Atsu Kuebutornye, Nkwanta-North District MOFA Director, said the industry posed a big challenge to the agricultural engineering in the country, which must provide the tools for example to facilitate uprooting cassava in the dry season.

He said a 30,000-hectare of land was cropped possibly yielding about 450,000 tonnes of cassava annually in the area.

Mrs Cynthia Sekyre, NOVAGAP Coordinator, said the group comprised 1,120 members and in addition to gari produced starch and ‘kokonte,’ (cassava preserved by drying and milling into powder).

She said there was demand for these products in adjoining countries and that a contract from India for the supply of starch was yanked-off because of difficulty in access to the production areas.

Mrs Sekyre said bad feeder roads was creating marketing nightmares for her members some of whom carry bags of gari on their heads for long distances to meet buyers.

She said other forms of transportation include pushcarts and tractors.

Mrs Sekyre said it was frustrating to load goods for markets only for the trucks to be grounded on trunk roads in the area for days, especially in the rainy season.

Mr Kobina Takyi Sam, Director Department of Feeder Roads for the Nkwanta-North and South Districts said his department would liaise with operators in the farm produce chain in the area to map important supply routes for repairs.

Mr Sam conceded the roads were bad but stressed that some prioritization was needed to ensure that the feeder road arteries were tackled first.

MARIGOLD ALMA Consult Limited, an Accra-based firm carried out the research which investigated the “problems, constraints and challenges confronting the construction of the main Nkwanta road and the rehabilitation of the other feeder road networks in the area”.

The Advocacy project “also aims to persuade the authorities to allocate human, financial and material resources to the construction of the road network, both trunk and feeder roads, to enhance movement of farm produce…”

Mr Samuel Kwawukumey, the Research Officer, provided the well-attended forum with pictorial accounts of the difficult access to the food production areas and on the trunk roads to the marketing centres.

Mr Ebenezer Nibo, Assistant Manager of the North Volta Rural Bank Agency at Nkwanta said the roads were collapsing many businesses in the area and affecting clients’ ability to service loans contracted from banks.

Source: GNA

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