Women Farmers in Ghana Gain the Skills and Confidence To Improve Local Economy

February 16, 2014
Vendor Sorts Beans at a Market in Ghana

In Ghana, as in many parts of the developing world, women often face significant barriers to financial stability. Particularly in rural areas of northern Ghana, women are much less likely than men to earn income, have access to credit or own assets, leaving them particularly vulnerable to shocks such as drought or family illness.

That's why Feed the Future is promoting gender equality in Ghana by training women to practice improved agricultural techniques, good nutrition and sound business management. Through a Feed the Future program managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), thousands of women are building skills, increasing their incomes and strengthening their status in their families and communities.

Many women in northern Ghana lack basic numeracy skills, which puts them at a disadvantage in agricultural markets where smallholder farmers exchange currency and negotiate prices for crops. To address this challenge, Feed the Future has trained more than 4,000 women farmers on numeracy in the small farming community of Gindabour, which has led to other opportunities for participants such as opening savings accounts with local banks and assisting their children with math homework.

Feed the Future also trained 5,000 women how to operate their family farms as for-profit agricultural businesses by measuring inputs and outputs, reducing production costs, using improved seeds and applying modern technologies to increase yields. Since participating in the trainings, the women have formed groups to increase knowledge sharing among smallholder farmers and provide a platform to continue learning from one another.

In addition, Feed the Future collaborated with four Ghanaian private sector companies to train 100 smallholder farmers on fertilizer and weedicide application, row planting and post-harvest handling. Today, more than 40 Gindabour women farmers from that group of 100 now have the right to cultivate land closer to their homes, a rare practice in the region that community leaders are coming to recognize as important to Gindabour’s food security.  Those farmers who adopted the practices they learned in training have also doubled their yields in rice, maize and soybean crops.

“I adopted what I learned by using hybrid seeds, practiced row planting and the right way of fertilizer application,” says Esteher Mulnye, one of the smallholder farmers who participated in the training. “At the end of the season I had 25 bags of maize; now some of the women in my community come to me to learn these practices.”

As women in Gindabour have steadily increased their economic participation, they have become better able to ensure their children can go to school and eat nutritious food. They have also been galvanized to contribute to improved food security and help secure a better future for their community. 

About the Author: Alicka Ampry-Samuel serves as a Development Outreach and Communications Specialist at the USAID Mission in Ghana.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears on the Feed the Future website.

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