Government has been urged to increase investment for women in agriculture, to help them increase production and contribute significantly to food security and the growth of the economy.
Women farmers in the Upper East Region who made the call noted that women in agriculture played a critical role in the agriculture value chain, to sustain the economy, but the numerous challenges were daunting their efforts.
They said apart from finding it difficult to secure the services of modern farming technology including tractors, planters, combined harvesters and fertilizer among others leading to increase in cost of production, women in the processing value chain did not have the necessary machines and factories to add value to the produce to attract good market
The women farmers made the call in Bolgatanga when the Targeted Review Mission Team of the National African Peer Review Mechanism Governing Council (NAPRM-GC), an arm of the African Union engaged stakeholders in the region on promoting good corporate governance.
Ms Faustina Abagrey, the Upper East Regional Chairperson of Women in Agriculture, explained that although government had rolled out some interventions in the agriculture sector with the aim of increasing food production, women could not fully benefit from such policies.
She stated for instance that the government’s planting for food and jobs programme was a laudable initiative as women could not compete with the men to access improved seeds and fertilizer to expand production.
“For instance, when they came out with modalities to give fertilizer on credit, the women all over the region paid back but some of the men did not pay but they added us to them and are punishing us. When the women were buying fertilizer on credit, they were able to do more and after harvesting they pay but they say they will not give us fertilizer on credit,” she said.
The Chairperson, therefore, called on the government to devise policies that treat women separately from men to avoid discrimination and encourage them to increase production.
On rice processing, Ms Abagrey explained that women did not have the right machines to nicely process rice without stones and added that it was the reason foreign rice was taking over the Ghanaian market rendering the efforts of women useless.
Pognaba Christiana Nge, the Paramount Queen mother of the Bongo Traditional Area, said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presented an opportunity for women in agriculture to increase trade, however, the lack of modernized technology and finances to support women to increase production was a standing block and should be addressed.
The regional engagement which is being rolled out across eight regions in the country was expected to help identify policy gaps and implementation challenges with regards to Ghana’s corporate governance practices and environmental bottlenecks to cross-border trade.
This would contribute to the development of a National Programme of Action (NPoA) to support the productive and corporate governance capacities of the business sector to make it capable to take full advantage of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and significantly contribute to intra-African trade.
The engagement brought together participants from the Ghana Immigration Service, the Ghana Police Service., Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, traditional authorities, farmers, traders and Civil Society Organisations among others.
It was held on the theme, “Corporate governance as a catalyst for the implementation of the AfCFTA”
Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, Chairperson, NAPRM-GC, explained that his outfit was facilitating corporate governance among the informal sector to enable businesses leverage on the benefits of the AfCFTA which was centered in Ghana.