Globally, development partners remain integral stakeholders in national development. Development partners are usually considered third party organizations that share in the economic risks of development or commercialization of a target or product being developed or commercialized. In Ghana, Global Affairs Canada continues to be a formidable financial and technical backbone to several community and infrastructural projects that are helping to improve the socio-economic and cultural wellbeing of Ghanaians.
One of such projects, the Modernizing Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) project, has since 2017 been providing support for the government of Ghana to improve the country’s agriculture sector. In a speech read last year at the launch of the 3rd Annual Women in Food and Agriculture Leadership Training and the Gold in the Soil Awards organized by Agrihouse Foundation, former Deputy Director, Development, Canadian High Commission in Ghana, Ms. Stephanie Brunet, said Canada recognises the potential of Ghana’s agriculture sector to reduce poverty and inequality in the country. “That is why we are providing 125 million Canadian dollars of assistance directly to the government of Ghana to help modernize the sector,” she revealed.
She went on to outline some tremendous successes of the project, which she revealed is in its fifth year: “These include increases in the adoption of relevant, productivity-enhancing technologies by both female and male farmers in Ghana; the introduction of new market-oriented approaches to farm management; improvements in major crops and many more,” she noted. According to her, a big focus of the MAG project has been to understand the specific needs of women farmers and ensure that both female and male farmers are receiving the appropriate extension services to help them improve both their yields and incomes. “This is in line with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance policy and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality,” she noted.
Canada Reiterates Support for Women-led Agribusinesses
This year, at the fourth WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards held in the Western Region at Takoradi, the Agriculture Sector Lead at the High Commission of Canada, Madam Candace Holt, reiterated the relevance of the Modernizing Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) project while underscoring Canada’s commitment to continue supporting more women farmer-based organizations across Ghana to scale-up their efforts – activities that usually include processing and packaging their agricultural commodities to attract higher value markets and make profit from the sale of their products.
She indicated that, already, through partnerships with the government of Ghana and organizations like the Agrihouse Foundation, Canada’s developmental efforts in the country are helping to increase empowerment and self-reliance among women in the agricultural sector. These efforts are helping women to demonstrate higher levels of financial autonomy. As a result, they are now able to buy land, add rooms to their homes, purchase agro-processing machines, expand their agro-processing activities and pay school fees for their children.
“I am therefore proud that Canada has supported this event [WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards] since its inception. We are proud to do so because it strongly resonates with our Feminist International Assistance Policy, which puts women and girls – in all their diversity – at the front and centre of development,” Ms. Holt noted in her remarks. She commended Agrihouse Foundation for ensuring the inclusion of fifteen women with disabilities in this year’s WOFAGRIC and Gold in the soil Awards.
“When women are empowered to realize their rights and economic potential, the benefits trickle to the whole of society,” she stressed. “This is why every development initiative funded by Global Affairs Canada has the FIAP as the starting point, so that we understand from the start how a project impacts women and how it can better benefit women.”
Canada in Ghana beyond the MAG Project
Ms. Candice Holt further noted that Canada’s support to women in agriculture goes beyond MAG. She used the opportunity to highlight projects including the Women’s Innovation for Sustainable Enterprises (WISE) project, the Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project, and the Women’s Economic Advancement for Collective Transformation (WeACT) project, which she described as women’s economic empowerment and economic growth-focused projects. She said these avenues are helping Canada support women operating within the value chain to build their skills, manage finances, and develop their businesses in specific areas like cocoa and shea production.
Highlighting the importance of WOFAGRIC and the Gold in the Soil Awards, she said the platform plays a significant role by honouring and displaying the successes of women farmers, which goes a long way to demonstrate that women farmers have a whole lot to contribute in Ghana’s development agenda.
“Women are especially crucial for the sustainability of Ghana’s agriculture sector. And for this, you deserve to be recognized and celebrated for your immense achievements and contributions to your country. When given equal opportunities to succeed, women shine!” she stressed.
Agriwoman: Grow – Recover – Stand-Out
She therefore urged the women to embrace their position as role-models in their communities, and also use it as an opportunity to inspire other women as the theme for the event charges them to do, “Agri-Woman: Recover – Grow – Stand-Out”.
She praised them for their remarkable achievements within the agricultural value chain which have earned them Gold in the Soil Award nominations, stressing on the fact that such visibility and recognition can play crucial roles in inspiring and motivating other women to grow and achieve their full potentials.
“We know that there have been challenges related to COVID-19 among other issues, yet you have all kept your eyes on the finish line and forged ahead. This brings us to today, when we can celebrate your important achievements. Your moment to ‘stand out’ and shine. You got here today through your own hard work and perseverance. However, you should not leave here today without picking up something extra. I want to encourage you to learn from each other, to make connections and support each other. Indeed, in my experience, working together is the best way to thrive,” Madam Candice Holt encouraged the women farmers.
Highlighting the significance of trainings, mentorship, capacity building – which are major aspects of the two-day event, she urged the women to make the most of resource persons the event has given then access to – by asking questions and networking. “It takes many of us working together to advance gender equality, which is why I’m so happy to see the wide range of organizations and partners here for this event: government agencies, front-line agriculture workers, private sector representatives and NGOs,” she added.
She encouraged other corporate sponsors of the event to continue supporting agriculture in Ghana as well as the WOFAGRIC and Gold in the Soil Awards.