Improved Multipurpose Planters: New tech for MEDA’s women soybean farmers

USAID deputy mission director Andy KarasFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2015

Wa, Ghana - Women soybean farmers are getting a boost from new labor-saving technology thanks to a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) grant program.

More than 80 excited women in Mennonite Economic Development Associates’ (MEDA) Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project have received new multipurpose planters.

GROW, with funding from the Canadian government and MEDA supporters, focuses on improving food security for families in Northern Ghana by assisting women farmers to grow soybeans and forge market links that will increase incomes.

Picture: USAID deputy mission director Andy Karas congratulates MEDA program coordinator Livinus Balog and GROW farmers and on their new planters.

USAID’s Agriculture Technology Project (ATT) project offers grants to small-scale farmers that cover 70% of the GHS275 ($62.50 USD) cost for a planter, with the women contributing the remaining 30%, about GHS82 ($18.64 USD).

The first group of women got a discounted price, but subsequent buyers will pay the regular price. Demand is expected to increase once others see the benefits of the planters.

The planters are available through Antika, the largest distributor of farming equipment, inputs and crop protection products and partner for planter distribution in Upper West Region. Antika hosted a celebration and demonstration for the farmers, community members, and representatives from USAID, ATT, MEDA and its key facilitating partners, PRUDA, CAPECS, CARD, TUDRIDEP and PRONET.

Abdulai Antiku, managing director of Antika, welcomed a crowd of over 100 attendees and discussed the importance of new technologies to improve Ghana’s agricultural production. “These are some of the innovations that are gradually changing the primitive methods of farming inherited from our ancestors. The women’s involvement in farming is clearly demonstrated here. We hope these planters will go a long way to improve and boost their farming activities, especially [because] planting is one of the most tedious activities in farming.”

USAID's Ghana deputy mission director Andy Karas traveled from Accra to present the planters and congratulate the women. He was pleased that, “The community members, particularly the women – who are so important to the agricultural sector here in Ghana and everywhere – that the women themselves have seen the value of the planters and I understand are contributing a significant portion of money to the purchase of these planters. So they can plant more efficiently and realize greater yield and production, because they’ve invested in this improved technology.” Karas also reinforced the importance of public and private partnerships, technology and innovation, and supporting especially women farmers to increase Ghana’s food security.

He noted women are the backbone of farming, but often not enough attention is focused on how to help them. “This is a very concrete way that we’re doing that. These are labor-saving technologies that making planting easier, that make the work more efficient. There are many other demands on women as heads of household in much of Ghana. So this technology, I’m very pleased, is going to have a very beneficial impact on women in particular, and by extension children, husbands – all of us in the communities.” He also thanked everyone for their support and contributions, especially MEDA for their integral partnership on the agricultural and nutrition side in the northern sector.

In addition to the short demonstration on how to use the planter at nearby field, later this month MEDA and ATT will be conducting follow-up training on proper handling and maintenance of the planters in the communities. As MEDA program coordinator Livinus Balog pointed out, “It is one thing having the equipment and another thing knowing how to use it properly.” Mr. Balog also said MEDA is looking forward to further collaboration so they can link more GROW farmers to planters and other technologies.

Abena Baagiro from Suke, Lambussie-Karne District, a GROW farmer since 2013, expressed her excitement: “I’m happy that I will get one [planter] today and move on planting my things early.” She applied for a planter because it will speed up the sowing process. Abena said in the past she used a rope to create her rows and planted seeds by hand, which was so labor intensive that it required additional people to help her sow her soybeans. Now, she’s hoping this will change with her new planter.

Abena will grow one acre of soybeans this season, but she added, “The next time, if I know it is easy, I will add more.” Her new planter will not just benefit her: She plans to share it with the 19 other women in her GROW group called “Neewere”, which means “I love a good place.”

Women can rent their planters out for a small fee, allowing them to earn additional income to recover their investment and maintenance costs. Abena’s story is a great example of how these new technologies can improve food production not only for her family, but also her community and all of 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.