Transforming african agricultural innovation role of women farmers
6TH AFRICAN AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE WEEK
THEME: “AFRICA FEEDING AFRICA THROUGH
AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE AND
Empowerment of Women and Youth for
Improved Productivity, Competitiveness and
Resilience of African agriculture
Venue Accra International Conference Centre, Ghana
Date 15th July, 2013
Transforming African agricultural
Role of women farmers
SUCCESS STORIES FROM THE FIELD
RURAL WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE IN GHANA
DAA ACHIEVEMENT S
BRIDGE TO A COMMUNITY
RURAL WOMEN / YOUTH CONCERNS
Since time immemorial, women have had to innovate. They
have always found new solutions to the problems they face so
as to ensure the survival of humanity. Rural women have had
to confront countless challenges, and their success lies in their
ability to overcome substantial obstacles. Positive outcome
relies on their creativity and determination.
Today, humanity is facing two major challenges: increase in
the world’s population, meaning more mouths to feed, and
the effects of climate change. Rural women are major
participants in the struggle to deal with these challenges; they
are at the heart of the solutions to these problems, through
their direct involvement on the ground.
Introduction Continued Rural women are the main producers of food in countries stricken by
famine and malnutrition. Women are the source of 80% of food produced
in these countries (source: FAO). It is fundamental that innovative
solutions be found in these countries.
In terms of climate change, rural women offer solutions. Agricultural
practices and positive contributions through the stewardship of nature,
can contribute to counteracting the effects of climate change.
All these innovations deserve support and accompaniment. The solutions
that have been found should not be undermined; on the contrary, the
sustainable development of rural environments requires support in the
form of large-scale investment in innovation. Better structural and
financial support mechanisms are required to promote the innovative
efforts being undertaken by rural women. A new approach is therefore
essential – it will determine the scope and degree of success of all these
Rural Women in Agriculture in
Agriculture remains the main source of livelihoods for about
52% of the population and 70% of rural populations. The
majority of rural Ghanaians are self-employed, both in
agricultural and non-agricultural activities.
In Ghana, the rural population constitutes 57.9% of which
50.1% are women. According to the GLSS 2005, 61% of the
urban and 53% of the rural female-headed households fall
within the poorest 18% of the population.
Poverty affects women and men differently;
Gender dimensions of poverty are directly related to the
forms of employment and livelihoods in which men and
women are engaged.
Food crop farmers of whom women constitute 55 to 60%
are worst hit by poverty (GLSS 2005).
The share of unpaid family farm workers is higher among
women, which accounts for 21.1% as compared to 9.6 %
of their male counterparts.
The seasonality of rural women’s employment is another
phenomenon that affects over 30% of rural women in the
Agricultural sector in comparison to 13% of those in non-
farm economic activities.
In Ghana, women are mostly smallholder farmers and
produce about 70% of the country’s food crops and
contribute to about 60% of the labor force.
They are also important stakeholders in agro-forestry
and fisheries and also major actors in post-harvest
activities, where they make up 95% of the actors in
agro-processing and 85% in food distribution.
Nonetheless, they face serious constraints in areas
such as: credit, land and labour, appropriate
technology, skewed extension service delivery, poor
infrastructural facilities, low prestige of agriculture,
high illiteracy and lack of management skills.
These have negative impact on their agricultural
Some of these gender inequalities are results of gender
stereotyping and socio-cultural practices.
Now the challenge is the global population which will
reach 7 billion people in the next two years and the
enormous challenge of feeding the world falls upon
farmers which women play a vital role.
The main objective is to share success stories from the
field as rural women and the youth.
I will share my experience with recommendations which I had
from FARA to partner with Women Thrive Worldwide (WTW)
after I have been identified in Ghana by WTW. We have
benefitted from WTW advocacy training for DAA/FONG to
enable rural women voices to be heard.
We still believe that if the government, researchers, farmers,
private sector, NGOs and other civil society with the women,
together “AFRICA FEEDING AFRICA THROUGH
AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE AND INNOVATION” will be very
effective using Innovation Agricultural Research For
Development ( IAR4D) approach.
Development Action Association (DAA) emerged
out of the Freedom from Hunger Campaign / Action
for Development FFHC/AD programme of the Food
and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the Greater
Accra Region of Ghana. The programme supported
community groups with the objective of reducing
poverty and empowering group members to be self-
reliant and to participate fully in their own
development. The FAO/FFHC initiative introduced
improved fish smoking and storage technology,
vegetable production and cassava processing in 13
villages in the Region.
As a result of these positive developments and their
growing self-confidence and organizational maturity the
groups decided to form a loose federation of grassroot
associations called the Development Action Association
(DAA) or NoyaaKpee in the Ga language. In 1998, the
DAA was registered as a farmer based non-profit
organization, which seeks to promote self-
reliance, participatory and sustainable development.
DAA is now operating in 54 communities in Greater Accra,
Central, Eastern Regions of Ghana and 98% of the
beneficiaries are rural women with low education. Its main
areas of operation are food security i.e. Fish processing,
cassava production, micro – credit, vegetable production
fish production and small animals raising (Grasscutter,
rabbits, snails, fowls, pigs etc).
DAA is a member of Farmers Organisations Network in
Ghana (FONG) which is a member of formerly
International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP)
and the Network of Farmers Organizations and
Agricultural Producers in West Africa (ROPPA). Every
quarter the executive members meet. Every year, members
invite chiefs, assembly members, District chief executives
and ministers of states to witness their AGMs. This is
indicative of the strong governance of the association and
Under the vegetable production programme, youth
and women were the target. A plot of land (12 ½ acres)
was leased for the project and it was shared equally
among the members of 25 farmers in a community in
Greater Accra Region. They were trained in the proper
methods of crop production, good seed, time of
planting, proper use of agrochemicals, time of
harvesting package and marketing. Since all the crops
are grown on the same plot it was easy to monitor and
Vegetable production con’t
Yield was increased. The youth stayed in the community.
Acquired knowledge was shared with the nearby
communities and as at now the main crop production is
okro and many communities are very grateful for the
shared knowledge. Recently, small snails were eating their
young crops at the field. An agro-chemicals group was
introduced to them which kill all the snails and production
and profit was increased.
They were able to educate their children and most of them
are back to the community as teachers etc.
The target was a cluster of communities along the beach for
a great impact. Women in fish processing in 5 communities
were introduced to the use of improved smoker called the
Chorkor smoker (developed by CSIR/ FAO / women in fish
processing). This is for the improvement on their fish
smoker. The women process the fish with their daughters
and some with their husbands. The main fish smoked is
anchovies as they are able to store for nine months and it is
for food security. Women process, store, and release it
during the lean season which they sell it throughout the
big markets in Ghana. For easy transportation, women
transport their products in bulk in big trucks to the
markets. Arrangement was made for associations to
regulate the sale at a time.
Fish Processing con’t
Women meet regularly to discuss their problems and find
solutions. Children were educated by building school in
one of the communities, which was handed over to the
government. Women were also educated in numeracy,
managements and simple book-keeping which FAO
developed. With the depletion of fish, women were
educated on fisheries policy which they were able to
communicate with the policy makers to enforce the
fisheries law. The women are now empowered.
CHORKOR FISH SMOKER
Fish properly smoked have better taste, nutrition,
improve shelf life, marketing and increased income.
Adoption has been effective – Gambia, Senegal
and other East Africa countries
DAA members were introduced by training to livestock
production (rabbits, snail, grasscutter and pigs).
This programme was done individually.
A woman farmer from Sege in Greater Accra had five pigs
and was able to increase her production to 400 pigs with a
short period. She took farming seriously with all the family
members and they were able to increase their production
in crops, livestock etc. She won the Ghana 2nd National best
farmer for 2009. She shares her award by using her pick-up
vehicle to transport members to meetings from the various
On Rabbits and grasscutter production, the association
processes and packages it well which are sold in some of
the big shops in Accra and offices.
A widow started processing 5 kg of maize to sell. She
increased her production in few months and the other
rivals (2women) and their children joined in the
processing. As at now the three women and their
children process 45 bags of 100 kg a day using a small
miller. CSIR, FARA were approached to assist to
introduce a bigger miller for them as it takes a whole day
to mill. Women are no more beggars as widows but are
Bridge to a community
There is no bridge on a river to a cocoa farming
community in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Women and
children had to walk for twelve kilometers before they
could mill their food; go to hospital, school etc. When it
rains the river overflows and for some days/ weeks they
are cut off from the nearby town. The women were
trained on advocacy to be able to talk to their district
The women talked to the district assembly and the
bridge has been built and women can now travel with
their produce to the market and sell.
ROPPA has partnered with West Africa Sub-
Regional Office (WASRO) of Women in Law and
Development in Africa (WILDAF) to empower
rural women in five countries in West Africa (Togo,
Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Liberia) on their
legal right which had tremendous impartation on
their lives. Women were trained as Legal Literacy
Volunteers in their communities.
FONG as a member of ROPPA in Ghana benefitted
from this programme.
As at now ROPPA has just created gender desk
office to assist the women college activities in all
the programmed countries in West Africa. The
gender desk officer is in the process of planning
activities. In Ghana FONG has a gender desk
ROPPA supported the strengthening / formation
of the farmer’s organization in Ghana
RURAL WOMEN / YOUTH CONCERNS
The main concerns are:
Improved technology: Women being innovators use different methods
of processing eg. gari greater. With support through individual or the
district, gari grating machine and improved technology of processing
could be given to a group of women could enhanced and reduce the
burden of the women to process food within a short time. Children will
not walk for a long distance to process the family meal
Improved seed: Rural women are mostly noted for keeping seeds from
the previous harvest. Due to poverty, most of them are not able to buy
improved seeds which they have to buy every planting season.
With climate change affecting seasonality’s of time of planting and
planting with no rains, as farmers depend on rains, poverty affect
buying of new seeds to replace crops which did not do well on the
field. These have become a big challenge.
Access to credit: Most rural women are not able to access credit
from the banks due to collateral and the high interest rate. But
women in association are able to access it as a group with
training. It also becomes difficult to pay back if they have crop
failure i.e no rains.
Access to Land: Most women and youth do not know land
policies. They work with their husbands on the family lands and
at the end when their husband dies they are moved out. When
they buy land they do not request for document as their
When they are head of a family they are not allowed to make
decisions unless a man is contacted. In some areas women are
to marry and move to their husbands’ house so they are not
allowed to own a land.
High Illiteracy rate: Most of the rural women worked with their
first daughters so they are not allowed to go to school. In some
areas boys are educated and girls are to help in the household
chores. All these had increased the illiteracy rate in the rural
areas. But these are changing.
Awareness of agricultural policies and market integrations: Due to
illiteracy, and most men attend meetings in the communities, most
rural women are not aware of agricultural policies but being in
associations women are being educating.
Bad roads networks: In most rural areas women had to walk for a long
distance to sell and buy the family needs due to bad road networks.
These affect the price of their produce and children also fail to stay
long at these communities to assist their parents as a child will walk for
a long distance to mill produce.
Schools: Communities where children walk for long distance to school
affect the children education especially women become much concern.
It becomes difficult to have a women as group secretary.
Portable water / electricity: In Ghana every community is set up by a
river. In recent times, rivers are polluted and having portable water, it
is a problem especially during the dry season women and children
have to walk for a long distance to look for water and this affect the
Electricity in a community helps children to know
more of their environment and the world at large.
Without electricity, the youth do not stay in the
community for long, they move out.
Storage facilities: Stored food crops assist for better
price and food security for the farm family. Women
need improved methods of storage.
Extension Services delivery (especially women):
Extension services delivery has been a problem in
the rural areas. In some communities’ women
extension are accepted for the women farmers. But
now the ratio is 1: 1,500 and only few women
extension are in the system.
Advocacy: Advocacy is a tool to solve problem. Rural
women trained in advocacy are able to express their
felt needs for better life.
Irrigation: With the climate change, rural women
with irrigation could produce by the dam, pond etc
all year round to reduce poverty.
Women need support as recommended by gender
gap. More will be achieved and will be imparted to
the youth for future development. If women are
given appropriate technology and resources they
could produce more than the men.
Community infrastructure (electricity, portable
water, school, roads etc.) will entice the youth to
stay at the communities and farm and be part of the
value chain in the communities.
Programmes in the rural areas should be the felt need of the
women and not one prepared for them.
Promotion of family farming: Communities are made up of
families and they work on their farms. If any new technology is
accepted, it is easy for the families to teach themselves for better
production and food security.
Rural women and youth need more knowledge in agricultural
policies and regional market integration.
Coming together to form association it becomes easy to train the
members on the new policies so as to become part of it.
Promotion of local seeds savings: Women farmers
normally keep local seeds for the family farms. This
methods need to be promoted as the families are
losing all their local seed and most of them are not
able to afford to buy every planting season.
The researchers also depend on the indigenous seed
of the area for the improved seeds
Training in advocacy: Rural women trained in
advocacy are able to advocate with the district the
government and the communities for their felt needs.
I will take this opportunity to thank the organizers for
this program and hope the gender desk for rural women
in FARA will help to plan programmes with the rural
women to improve food security, to enable them feed
themselves and reduce poverty and be part of the
regional integration. We look forward for it. Not