Government urged to address challenges facing rural women farmers

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Bolgatanga, Oct 18, GNA – The government has been urged to institute affirmative action to address the numerous challenges confronting rural women farmers.
Key among the challenges is access to markets for their farm produce.

“We have experienced unequal access to markets and other opportunities in the competitive business environment, resulting in dwindling profits and ineffective application of modern marketing strategies”.

These were contained in a petition presented by the National Women Farmers Movement to government through Mr Frank Adongo Fuseini, Deputy Upper East Regional Minister in Bolgatanga.

The petition was a prelude to the International Day of Rural Women celebrated on October 15, which was on the theme, “Enhancing market access for rural women and local producers, let’s end gender-based violence now”.

It was organized by ActionAid Ghana, a Non Governmental Organization and brought together rural women from five operational regions including the Upper East, Upper West, Northern, Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions.

The event was characterized by route marches through the principal streets of the Bolgatanga townships, with inscriptions on the women’s T-shirts, some of which read “promote market access opportunities to women”, “increase investment for women farmers, “women have the right to secure titled farmlands” as well as “eliminate gender-based violence against women”.

In the petition, presented by Mrs Veronica Gbande, the National President of Smallholder Farmers Women Movement on behalf of the group, she indicated that women over the years had contributed significantly to the development of the agricultural sector and food security in the country.

She noted however that they had constantly been discriminated against by community members, men and their husbands as well as neglected in policy formation and implementation by government.

It said, “while we suffer untold hardships to transport our produce from often unmotorable terrain to big markets, we are not given standard weight measurements for our produce, leading to under pricing and unfair advantage for middle men, competitors and large scale producers.

“Lack of storage facilities and advanced food preservation methods for organic foods make it difficult for us to plan effectively to take advantage of marketing opportunities in different sessions. “We have often been compelled to sell our produce cheap to large scale producers who are able to store for better prices in the lean market periods”.

The Movement called on government to institute policies that would empower women economically and demanded that “smallholder women farmers and local producers are recognized and given special consideration in the implementation of the government flagship programme, One District One Factory”.

It further asked government to device measures to solve the long standing land tenure system issue with regards to the difficulties women faced when they want to have access to secured and titled lands for farming purposes.

“We are further demanding the reduction of our care burden at home through the provision of facilities such as child care centres, to save time in care duties. This will enable us devote more attention to our farming and small scale businesses,” the petition stressed.

The Deputy Regional Minister commended ActionAid Ghana for supporting the women and promised to deliver their concerns to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for action to be taken.

He said the government was aware of the plight of women, especially rural women, and indicated that they contributed to the various interventions being implemented to improve on their livelihoods.

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