The President of the Volta and Oti Women in Agriculture Network (VOWAN), Mama Dzitri II, says there is the need for government, district assemblies and stakeholders to make sure mechanization services are available and nearer to members of VOWAN to help the efforts of women farmers.
She said the members of the Network which is made up 60 groups have been complaining about the difficulty in have access to farming equipment to use on their farms.
Mama Dzitri, also the Queen of Wli Agorviefe, speaking in Jasikan during a meeting with stakeholders to present a position paper and outcome of a research commissioned by VOWAN to evaluate the availability and access of Agriculture Mechanization Equipment by members in the Volta and Oti regions, revealed that inadequate funds was also a factor in accessing the equipment.
She said that the procedures in accessing equipment from the Agricultural Mechanization Services Enterprise Centres (AMSECs) were tiring since the cost of travel to AMSECs as well as booking for the services were also high.
The President said they were calling for the mechanization services to be closer to the doorsteps of the women farmers in various communities to make it easier to access without high cost and stress.
Dr. Joshua M. Makubu, Oti Regional Minister, revealed that the outcomes of the research were intriguing and assure VOWAN that he will meet with the Director of Agriculture in the Region to take a critical look at the mechanization centre and get new people to the centre if possible.
He said the Assemblies sometimes face challenges such as getting funds to repair damaged machines at the AMSECs whilst some farmers too fail to follow due processes when they are in need of mechanization services.
Dr. Makubu said that they will hold consultations to discuss the requests put by VOWAN in order to bring solutions to the findings and also make the needed contributions to support the women farmers in agriculture.
He tasked the farmers and the citizenry in general to help government and be interested in the well-being of any assets that belonged to the state.
Madam Janet Adade, a VOWAN member, also said that when the recommendations from the research gets the needed attention and AMSECs are operational, members will get the services they needed without spending so much money.
She said when the services are available, the cost of labour and stress will also reduce and it will help the women farmers to increase their productivity and make more profits.
She called on stakeholders and donors to come on board for them to work together and make the advocacy a very successful one.
Madam Adade said that although some of the challenges such as inaccessible farms by some of the mechanization equipment, members of the Network in such areas must work together through communal services to resolve.
She said if government and other donors fix the roads, it will become a long-lasting solution which will help the women farmers to transport their produce.
Some recommendations of the research called on District Assemblies to liaise with AMSECs to increase access to quality mechanization services for women farmers and smallholders.
It also called for the establishment of transparent traceability systems, and ensure strong cooperation with farmer members.
The recommendations also call on government to prioritize the release of funds for maintenance work, remuneration for operators, and refunds when necessary, and ensure that payments made by clients for mechanization services are accessible by the AMSECs.
It was recommended that technical institutions must design and construct basic agricultural machines, train farm machine builders and mechanics to maintain and repair agricultural machines.
It further called for a close collaboration between the Assemblies and the District Agricultural Engineers to manage the AMSECs with the equipment operators regularly trained on the available tools and equipment and their maintenance.
Some findings from the research revealed that majority of the members could not meet the payment condition such as cash payment, advance or immediately after the service hence willing to pay for services rendered after harvest.
It was also revealed that the long distance between the farmland and the AMSECs make it difficult for effective mechanization.
The findings noted that most VOWAN members do not know the contact and the request process for AMSECs services and cannot plan for machinery service.
It was revealed that there was inadequate equipment at the AMSECs and lack of operators and technical know-how for the equipment, mangers of AMSECs lack the requisite knowledge in managing the centers and the few operators available were poorly remunerated.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) – Sustainable Employment through Agribusiness (AgriBiz) supported the research conducted.