ActionAid Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organization has trained some women in the Upper East Region on agriculture extension services, to enable them to provide extension services to smallholder women farmers, to boost agriculture production.
The training under the four-year Northern Ghana Integrated Development Project (NGIDP) sponsored by the European Union (EU) was to equip the women dubbed, “Female Extension Volunteer” with modern agriculture extension services to work with the Department of Agriculture, to assist smallholder women farmers in their various communities to adopt best agriculture practices.
The overall objective of the project is to contribute to rural poverty reduction in Ghana through economic development, adoption of environmentally-sustainable agriculture policies and practise to reduce adverse effects of climate change, and greater access to social protection.
Speaking at a training session in Zebilla in the Bawku West District, Ms Terence Tienaah, the Project Manager, Providing Empowerment Opportunities for women in Ghana, ActionAid said the project was being implemented in 15 districts across the country and four in the Upper East Region.
She mentioned the beneficiary districts in the Upper East Region as Kassena-Nankana Municipal, Bawku West, Nabdam, and Builsa South Districts and added that the project was being implemented in 20 communities in each district.
The Project Manager explained that data from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in 2018 revealed that the average ratio of agriculture extension agent to farmer was 1:1,850 in Ghana which was below the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) recommended ratio of 1:500 and women were most affected.
She said the project would therefore train 60 female extension volunteers in each district to provide agriculture extension services to about 13,500 marginalized women smallholder farmers, including; young people and people with disability and strengthen 300 women farmer groups.
The project would also empower 15 farmer networks and train 1,050 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and group leaders through the improved delivery of extension services, increased awareness on rights to land, social protection and decent work and would reach a total of 825,000 people directly or indirectly in the 15 districts of implementation, she said.
Ms Tienaah said it was the expectation of the project that the smallholder women farmers would be abreast with the needed extension services to increase food production, increase their yields and income levels as well as contribute to national development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mr Elias Atimbire, the Bawku West District Director of the Department of Agriculture who lauded the initiative of ActionAid and its sponsors revealed that the district had only 12 extension officers with women being only two which was woefully inadequate to provide the required services to farmers in the district.
He said women were often marginalized due to the culture of the area which made it difficult for extension officers to freely interact with them.
The Director gave the assurance that his outfit would work hard to assist the trained women deliver on their mandate and ensure that women practised the best agriculture methods to mitigate against climate change, and strengthen their livelihoods through increased production.