‘We need more women as Agric officers’

Some women farmers across the country have complained that the lack of women agricultural officers, particularly extension officers, to help address their challenges, in a sector dominated by men, remains a huge disincentive to their work.

They noted that while women farmers are mostly occupied with domestic chores their male counterparts, in their case, have the benefit of being fully engaged by agric officers who provide extension services.

The development, they said, hinders the ability of women farmers to be exposed to sound agronomic practices that could help address farming challenges while boosting their yields.

The women, for instance, observed that given the lack of female extension officers in the system access to the few males who often have the desire to assist them is limited due to some misconceptions especially in communities with strong cultural ties.

At a media engagement organized by the Ghana Federation of Forest and Farm Producers (GhaFFaP), in Kumasi, in addition to this enumerated a number of challenges confronting women in the agricultural sector.

Among some of the challenges listed include access to land, land tenure and control, high cost of land, access to credit, lack of market for farm produce and poor market accessibility, access to farm input, among others.

A young peasant farmer, Janet Asandoh, from Asankragua, who is also a member of Achichire Sureso-Pebaseman (ASP-CREMA), reckoned that despite the general appeal to encourage the youth to enter into farming there have been little or no efforts to help women in particular to confront challenges in the agriculture sector.

While acknowledging that access to land and its control is a huge disadvantage to women farmers, she also noted that the lack of government support and inadequate market and distribution channels are putting a lot of women out of the farming business.

The Operations Manager of Kookoo PA, Joyce Poku – Marboah, also in an interview at the backdrop of the meeting, explained that the land tenure system affects the ability of women farmers to make long term investments in their farming business.

She said the conditions under which women are given land to farm mostly empowers the owners to demand back their land at any time irrespective of whatever investment the woman farmer might have made.

However, she applauded the efforts of the House of Chiefs to have all lands properly documented in order that people who go in for land to farm can have some leverage to seek legal redress in instances where a landowner goes against an agreement reached prior.

She also proposed that traditional and local government authorities should enact bylaws that could state the terms for granting women farmers access to land for farming activities.

She said, for instance, since the establishment of Kookoo PA in 2009, its land registration policy and training programmes have helped to better the lives of many women farmers, across the country.

GhaFFaP is a national federation of Forest and Farm Producer Organisations (FFPOs) drawn from the three ecological zones of the country for promoting the interest of forest and farm producers in Ghana.

The evolution of GhaFFaP has been influenced by the desire of members to maximize their strength in numbers towards building strong profitable forest and farm-based businesses, promote climate-resilient landscapes across the forest, transition and savanna ecological zones in Ghana among others.

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