Abiba Alidu, a Forty-two-year-old farmer, has demonstrated that disability does not mean inability by winning the 2019 district level awards on Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (Agroecology) in the Tain District in the Bono Region.
Her hard work distinguished her from the over 88,104 people with 53 per cent male dominance in the district.
“It has not been easy to come this far, but I told myself I cannot stop because I have a disability,” Madam Alidu stated in an interview.
She is one of the many people affected negatively by the effects of climate change and pushed her to migrate from the northern part of the country to the middle and southern belt.
In her quest to survive, an opportunity to learn improved farming practices called Agroecology, which she whole-heartedly embraced.
What is Agro-ecology?
According Action Aid policy brief on Scaling-up, “Agro-ecology as the science of sustainable agroecosystems, is a set of farming practices, and a social movement.
It draws on social, biological and agricultural sciences and integrates these with traditional, indigenous and farmers’ knowledge and cultures.
“It focuses on the interactions between microorganisms, plants, animals, humans and the environment. Highly knowledge-intensive, context specific and locally adaptive, its technologies are developed based on farmers’ knowledge and participatory on-farm experimentation”.
As the world finds adaptation measures to produce as part of developing sustainably and reducing emission Agroecology is a natural cost effective method introduced by ActionAid Ghana (AAG) under the Promoting Opportunities for Women Empowerment and Rights (POWER) project.
Abiba attests that providing three square meals for the children is no more a problem, as she is able to produce excess for sale after religiously practising practices of Agro-ecology.
“The trainings, which armed with improved skills and methods in land preparation such as no tillage and preparing composting and mulching has enhanced my crop yield”.
Additionally, the provision of small ruminants served as an alternative means of livelihoods to me.
She says the benefits of the Agro ecology motivated her to expand and diversify her farming adding that a 13 acres of farmland was secured for 2020 years production season.
The motherly instinct did not allow her to keep the new farming magic discovered to herself, but mobilized the women her in Attakrom, a local community in the Tain District to receive training in Agroecology. Together she led them to also demand for their rights.
Now the women group is less worried about the drought spell, high temperature and short production duration, being experienced due to the adverse effect of climate change because they have an effective adaptation mechanism. The POWERE project has empowered them to participate in economic activities.
The POWER Project
There is evidence that most smallholder’s women farmers in the district like, Madam Kate Fosua, Madam Cathrine Serwaa, Mama Mabel, Ms Esther Zury and Madam Rosemond Anaab in the POWER partner communities in the country have embraced Agroecology.
Abiba as is affectionately called is now a voice for many women and is appealing to the government to put in place policies and strategies that promote sustainable livelihoods for smallholder farmers.
Ms Priscilla Lariba Asangalisah a Documentation, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at ActionAid Ghana explains that AAG and Social Development and Improvement Agency (SODIA), a partner on the POWER project seeks to support women at community levels to lead their own development.
“Through reflection action tools, they critically discuss and analyse issues that affect their economic empowerment and develop actions to mitigate or address the issues. These actions provide the platform to share lessons and to document good practices for upscale,” she said.
According to her, as part of the POWER implementation measures, the project team collaborated with the Tain District Assembly and external agents to increase visibility of gender issues, build solidarity among women.
The project working with partners has fostered close relationships with women, social movements, and custodians of the land to improve livelihood and participation in economic activities.
“As a nation we have evolved but our ideas about Agroecology has not evolved and have not received the needed support and commitment from policy makers and implementers.
Agroecology is just as worthy of trying in bids like piloting national programmes to promote sustainable food production and safeguard the environment,” she said.
“To dream for a fairer world and a resilient economy that is driven by agriculture, Ghana needs a national agroecology policy.
“We must include rural women smallholder farmers in decisions that concern their production systems and livelihoods by ensuring climate justice. It also means investing in Agroecology and the long term health of Ghanaians”.