Mrs Victoria Aniaku, Deputy Director at the Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD) Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) has called on traditional authorities and community leaders to collaborate and promote increased access to productive land and tenure security for small-holder farmers, especially women to improve the agriculture sector and enhance livelihoods.
Mrs Aniaku said, challenges still exist in achieving the ultimate goal of a modernized and structurally transformed agricultural sector with enhanced equitable opportunities and resources for men, women, Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs), the aged and the youth.
She made these remarks during a policy dialogue which was organized by NETRIGHT with support from USAID, under Feed the Future (FtF) Agriculture Policy Support Project (APSP) on the theme “Strengthening Gender Responsive Policy Processes in the Agricultural Sector”.
The policy dialogue which aims at empowering women and women’s rights organisations to actively engage in evidence-based gender-responsive policy advocacy in the agriculture sector to enhance livelihoods, brought together participants from the Women’s Rights Organisation, District actors, MDAs in the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, Land and Natural Resources.
She said that, Recruitment and replacement of more female extension officers to the agricultural sector is important as well as the promotion of at least 40% quota in the provision of agricultural extension to meet the needs of women to help bridge gender gaps in extension service delivery.
Mrs Aniaku recommended that, women should be supported with enhanced knowledge and skills to engage in development and decision-making processes at all levels.
Small-holder farmers, especially women should be provided with opportunities to participate in programmes and processes along the agricultural value chain.
According to the Ministry of Food and Agricultural (MoFA), women contribute 70 percent of food and food crop production in the country. They, however, reap minimal benefits from investments in the sector.
MoFA’s Progress Report for 2013 shows that large proportions of the agricultural workforce are women, constituting 52 percent, with a high rate of illiteracy and limited capacity to access and adopt improved agricultural technologies, thus most of them are poor.
Women farmers’ access, control, and ownership of land also pose a huge challenge to their farming activities, as a result of the complex mix of customary and statutory laws that governs Ghana’s land tenure system.
The Food and Agricultural Sector Development Policy (FASDEP) II categorically states that gender inequality in the agricultural sector has undermined the achievement of sustainable agricultural development because programmes and projects are not systematically formulated around different needs of women and men.
Furthermore, MoFA’s mid-term review report of the Medium Term Agricultural Sector Investment Plan (METASIP), in 2013, also indicates that the approximate male to a female coverage ratio of all projects mapped to the METASIP was 2:1 and very few of the projects had gender inclusiveness as part of the areas of focus within theproject objectives.
FASDEP II policy direction for the sector focuses on value chain approach to the agricultural sector, emphasizing value-addition and market access. This brings into sharp focus emerging issues in the shifts in policy since the development of Gender and Agricultural Development Strategy (GADS I) in 2001.
The GADS was reviewed and re-launched in 2015 as GADS II and provides guidance for the integration of gender equality in the implementation of agricultural development policies and programmes.
By: Latifa Carlos