Women farmers learn about smart technologies for the future

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2015

GROW Lead Famers staff and KFPs at the ForumTamale, Ghana - MEDA – Mennonite Economic Development Associates – sponsored five rural women lead farmers from their Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project to attend the 5th annual Northern Ghana Pre-Season Networking and Planning Forum on March 26 in Tamale, Northern Region.

They traveled from various communities in the Upper West with MEDA's key facilitating partners (KFP) to participate and learn about smart technologies that increase productivity. The forum drew value chain actors and development agencies across Ghana working on soybeans, rice and corn.

During a welcome address, Brian Kiger from the United States Agency of International Development's (USAID) Agriculture Technology Transfer (ATT) project urged the farmers to "try something new this season" and challenged them to increase their productivity. According to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), to sustain Ghana's current population growth, Ghana must double its food production by 2030.

GROW lead farmers learn from USAIDMEDA's GROW project, funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), is working hard to contribute to this goal. By 2018, GROW aims to assist 20,000 women farmers in northern Ghana to produce soybeans, increasing their family's food security and income.

The GROW farmers attended presentations and discussions about new technologies, farming best practices, available financial services for small farmers, crop insurance, and information technology services for the latest crop prices and weather news. They also had a chance to network with seed suppliers, financial services providers, information technology providers, agro chemical suppliers and many private exhibitors to learn about their products.

"I learned the type of seed you need to sow to get a better harvest-certified seed," said Kutum George, a GROW lead farmer from the Wa East District. She plans to contact the agro chemical suppliers and seed planter sellers she met before next planting season. Kutum grew one acre of soybeans last year, but hopes to expand her farm to three acres this season.

Another GROW farmer from the Wa West District, Sandii Yikpolp, felt that she benefited most from learning about conservation agriculture. "I farm soybeans. What I learned is that you need to start planning early and you don't need to burn everything in the farm," she said. "Leave it dusty and use cover crops, so that you fertilize it." Like the others, Sandii is excited to share her new knowledge with the women farmers in her community in the hope that they will all increase their productivity this season.

Abdullai Ayishetu, a GROW farmer in the Lambussie/ Karni District, felt that the forum was very useful to her. "Actually, I've learned a lot. You have to consider your land, seed, money you're going to invest and the timing too." Ayishetu plans to expand her soybean farm from one acre to one and a half this season. She was actively engaging with what seemed like all of the exhibitors: "I didn't know there were other organizations apart from Farmerline. Today I saw all of them."

When Ayishetu was asked if she would continue growing soybeans even after MEDA's GROW project ended, she replied with a smile: "Come what may, rain or shine, I will farm soybeans." With farmers like Kutum, Sandii and Ayishetu trying new methods and expanding their crop productions, it offers hope for a food secure future in Ghana.

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For more information, please contact:
Linda Whitmore - lwhitmore@meda.org
Jaclyn Stief - jstief@meda.org
519-725-1633

About Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)
MEDA is an international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty. Founded in 1953 by a group of Mennonite business professionals, we partner with the poor to start or grow small and medium-sized businesses in developing regions around the world. Our expertise includes a full range of economic development tools: financial services, improved technology, business training, better access to markets and equity investment. Our work most often focuses on women, youth and the rural poor. We believe that all people deserve the opportunity to earn a livelihood and that unleashing entrepreneurship is a powerful way to alleviate poverty.

About GROW
MEDA's Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project in Ghana's Upper West partners with local NGOs to improve food security by helping women grow more nutritious food, adopt simple irrigation systems to increase their yields and connect with markets. Women are learning better farming techniques, enjoying greater food security and a better variety of nutritious food, and gaining awareness of the benefits of a safe and nutritious diet.