Women in Agriculture calls on government for help

Some animal husbandry farmers in Ghana who may have felt left out after government’s implementation of the “Planting for Food and Jobs” project, can now be included in a similar programme; “Raring for Food and Jobs”.

The government has started registration for individuals interested in the ‘Raring for Food and Jobs’ project which seeks to encourage farmers who are interested in animal production to solicit for support.

Speaking to ghanabusiness.com after a panel discussion organized by the US Embassy on the topic “Women in Agriculture: Reversing trends, changing lives” in commemoration of Women’s History Month in Accra, Madam Lydia Incoom, an official of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture at Awutu Senya indicated that the government has begun registration for interested farmers who would want to rare rabbits, goats and sheep, poultry and pigs.

“Apart from the planting for foods and jobs, government has introduced the ‘Raring for Foods and Jobs’ which was launched last November and we have begun registration. So we are collating the data to send to government and that is what they will use to implement the programme,” she said.

Meanwhile some women in farming have expressed their frustration about the numerous challenges they face in the sector. Stakeholders in the Northern Region for instance, lamented over the inability of women to easily acquire land for farming because of tradition.

The US Mission Ghana International Women of Courage Honoree Stella Saaka, said a lot more needs to be done to fully gain the attention of opinion leaders in that part of the country to give more access to land for women in farming.

“Back at the Northern Region, it is a challenge because a woman does not own land, it is the man and therefore when you go in to ask for land it is very difficult for you,” she said.

The women also spoke about difficulty in accessing tractors to prepare land for cultivation, adding that lack of access to technology and mechanization are impeding the development of the agriculture sector.

Founder and Director of OAK FOUNDATION, Portia Agyei Yeboah indicated that the high interest on loans is a major hindrance in the sector.  According to her, the banks charge about 36 per cent interest on loans which is extremely high.

She said most farmers are financially challenged and are unable to go for loans because of the high interest rate.

“I took a loan to purchase a tractor to be able to support these women and it was given to me at 36 per cent interest rate, and I am struggling to pay this loan. Once it gets out of the monthly payment period, you have huge debit interest hitting your account, so this is really a major problem,” she lamented.

She called on banks to give long term loans with low interest to help farmers sustain their businesses in the sector.

“What i think we can do is to introduce what I call ‘patience capital’. Give us loans that are long term. This loan I am talking about, after the bank gave it to me, they started taking principal in just four months’ time, how do I pay principal with an interest rate of 36 per cent in just four months time after taking this facility, so we need loans that are long term and also on lower interest rate that we can help these women with it, or our farming in Ghana with it,” she said.

She commended the government for the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ initiative which is yielding increases in food production.

The Stakeholders also called for the inculcation of the interest of farming and gardening in pupils, and urged teachers to stop using weeding or farming as a way of punishment for pupils in schools.

The Women’s History Month was organized to highlight accomplished women who work to break barriers in the male-dominated agricultural environment.

By Asabea Akonor

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