Dr Francis Kusi, a Senior Research Scientist at the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) has called for the upscaling of the “Household Economic Security for Poor Women Project” (HESP).
The project, which is implemented by CARE International, to other communities in Northern Ghana is focused on soya beans and groundnut farming and aimed at improving the economic security of poor women smallholder farmers and their households in Northern Ghana to increase productivity and access to inputs and markets.
CARE International, with funding support from the big lottery Fund in the United Kingdom in 2015 begun implementing the three year project with its partners including SARI, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), the Business and Advocacy Centre (BUSAC), the District Assemblies among others in the Garu -Tempane District in the Upper East Region and the Lambussie District in the Upper West Region under the CARE Pathways Project.
It is expected to end in 2018.
He stressed that the demonstration fields established by the project under the CARE International “Farmer Field and Business School Model (FFBs) model” served as learning centres where the farmers were trained, shared experiences and were guided through activities to gather information to make informed decisions in their farming practices leading to the higher yields.
“The Rural Women Smallholder farmers including; males’ knowledge in soybean and groundnut production had also improved through the use of appropriate farming technologies and best practices.
The project intervention also led to the improvement of soil water conservation, soil fertility improvement, increased productivity per unit area and also empowered women groups in skills and knowledge for wealth creation”, Dr Kusi stressed.
He mentioned that one of the significant successes chalked by the Project was linking the rural smallholder women farmers to aggregators, formation of Community Based Extension Agents (CBEAs) and input dealers in the communities, Market Research Committees at the communities and District levels as well as organising Inputs fair for input dealers.
Dr Kusi therefore appealed to other development partners and the Government to partner CARE International to help upscale the project to make a greater impact.
He said Rural Smallholder farmers hold the key to food security and when supported through CARE International’s model could help fast-track the attainment of many of the goals in the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mrs Gifty Sambo, the Chairperson of Market Research Committees stated that apart from offering the 16 District Marketing Research Committees including the zonal Committees with bargaining and negotiation skills, and how to sign business contracts, they have been linked to aggregators such the Savannah Company based in Tamale and Yahaya Iddrisu Company in the Upper West Region who buy their farm produce immediately after harvesting .
She stated that to add value to the production of soya beans and groundnuts, the project offered them equipment including multi threshing machines and roasters and sponsored their trips to the buying company’s sites in Tamale, Techiman, Kumasi, Sunyani among others.
The District Director of the Business Advocacy Centre (BAC), Ms Sharon Florence Gane, stated that her outfit had trained many of the Rural Smallholder Women farmers including; Input Dealers who were under the HESP project in the areas of Business Development, record keeping and linked them to register their businesses with the Registrar General Department.
Madam Agnes Loriba, Programme Manager for Pathways Ghana, who expressed happiness about the impact of the project, explained that studies conducted by CARE International in Northern Ghana in 2012 revealed that women farmers were responsible for producing 70 per cent of household food requirements and yet they were confronted with greater challenges which informed the implementation of the project in the two Districts.
She added that problems such as less access to financial services for investment, the lack of access to markets, inputs, reliance on traditional methods of farming with no access to extension services and low access to improved seeds as well as limited access to technical information particularly on the weather and pricing for planning and decision-making purposes all contributed to inform the decision for the project