USAID –Financing Agriculture Project (USAID-FinGAP) is poised to help invest in women involved in agribusiness value chain. This is to help empower women in helping build a resilient economy.
Ms Sharon Cromer, USAID Ghana Mission Director believes that, empowering women in agriculture can serve as a catalyst to help position the country as a nation beyond aid faster and in a sustainable manner.
She indicated that empowering women to participate in the local economy could pave the way to Ghana’s self-reliance and economic growth.
“Fostering broad-based inclusive economic growth means unlocking everyone’s potential, including women and youth, to fully utilize their talents. This involves investing in gender-smart solutions,” she said at the Women in Agribusiness Development Summit organized by the USAID –Financing Agriculture Project (USAID-FinGAP) in Accra.
According to statistics, women made up 50 percent of the population and served as an underutilized resource, such that progress could not be made when over half of the country faced a range of economic and social challenges, including lack of access to land, markets, agricultural technologies and inputs.
It is a five-year project (2013-2018) with the goal of facilitating finance and investment in the maize, rice and soy supply and value chains in Northern Ghana. It also aims at improving ancillary services so that agribusinesses can operate at full capacity and expand levels of food security in the country.
The Chief of Party, USAID FinGAP, Mr. Rick Dvorin, said the project had so far facilitated a financing gap of about US$150 million to 2,500 small, medium, including large enterprises (SMiLEs) out of which 1,000 are female-led.
He added that a total of 150,000 smallholder farmers had benefited from the financing through SMiLEs and about 40 per cent of them were women.
“Financing women group or women-led SMiLEs is less risky. Let’s do it for Ghana’s food security and economic development,” he said.
The USAID and MEL Consulting Limited hosted the summit to highlight the contributions of women in Ghana’s agricultural sector.
The event was on the theme: ‘’Women at the Frontier of Agribusiness Development; Financing and Business Support for Enhanced Food Security,’’ and brought together women-led agribusinesses, farmers, processors, business service providers, financial institutions, government and development partners.
She noted that the increase would positively impact the country’s agricultural industrialization agenda through its flagship programmes such as the Planting for Food and Jobs, Youth in Agric Programme and the one-district, one-factory.
“I encourage our women to take advantage of these excellent initiatives. Heavily subsidized fertilizers, agro-chemicals and improved seeds are all available to our farmers to enjoy. Other young women should also venture into agriculture to better their lives rather than engaging in kayayei, prostitution, early and forced marriages or going beyond the borders of Ghana for non-existent jobs,” she said.
She called on stakeholders in the private sector, especially financial institutions, to come on board to support women in the agribusiness sector, even as government does its part by introducing policies and programmes that would create the requisite environment for the promotion of businesses and agricultural development.
The event culminated in an award for some women-led agribusinesses and smallholder actors for their contribution to Ghana’s agriculture sector.
Story: Adnan Adams Mohammed