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International Women’s day - Women in agribusiness advocate access to research data - Others ask for tech support

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
 Ms Alice Poku Mensa, Biraago Designs
Ms Alice Poku Mensa, Biraago Designs

As part of efforts to empower women as Ghana joins the rest of the world to mark International Women’s Day (IWD), Ghanaian women entrepreneurs have called for the empowerment of women in their respective fields.

For the women in agribusiness, empowering women in agricultural research was a key strategy for sustainable agricultural development.

The Executive Director of the Development Action Association (DAA), development-oriented farmer-based organisation, Mrs Lydia Sasu, in an interview on March 5, 2021, noted that although women in agribusiness significantly contributed to the agricultural development in the country, they seemed invisible in agricultural research and knowledge transfer.

She said agricultural research was important as scientists sought to discover procedures that would increase livestock and crop yields, improve farmland productivity, reduce loss due to disease and insects and increase overall food quality.

“If the researchers open their doors, we also enter or else we won’t get to know what they do and won’t be able to improve. In spite of all the challenges, we are not sleeping. We are trying to feed the nation.”

“Imagine a society where women farmers learn how to produce high-yielding and nutritious food. The impact would be positive on food security and nutrition, and particularly on the farmer’s income,” she said.

She called for more support from government and other stakeholders in the area of research for development to enable women in agribusiness to excel.

Read: CSIR to focus on private sector-driven research


Women in fishing

Mrs Sasu said there was a depletion of fish stock worldwide; Ghana was hard hit. As a result, women engaged in the sector now sit idle and this has affected their social well-being as they are unable to take care of the household.  

“The challenge is how best we can improve the living standard of these women. Now they have resorted to buying from the cold stores to process and which prices are very high and eroding their profits,” she said.

She however commended the Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) for adopting an integrated approach to improve the sector.

Read: Parliament urged to pass Affirmative Action bill  - As world marks International Women’s Day (Features)



Women in rice

According to her, most women in the rice growing areas require the right equipment or machinery to be able to add value to their produce.

She explained that in the absence of tools, the women suffer, and after harvesting, aggregators go to buy from them, whereas, most have been trained to do processing.

“We are appealing to government and all stakeholders to support women rice farmers to enable them add value to their produce,” she said.


Women in other business

Another entrepreneur, Ms Alice Poku Mensa of Biraago Designs, producers of contemporary African home décor products, said she has been in business for the past six years out of her passion for African products and interior designing.

She said her dream from infancy had been to turn African products to contemporary décor for use worldwide.

Sharing her experience as a woman in business, she said the journey had not been easy but a long one.

She faces all kinds of challenges including having to work with male staff who feel intimidated, coupled with the economic challenge of getting raw materials in standards required to be able to make it in the competitive market.

However, she takes inspiration from her love for what she does.

“Well, I love what I’m doing so I push to prove a point that what a man can do, I can also stand up as a woman to do it. So, for me it is about being firm and knowing what you want such that you are able to push further,” she said.


Some successes

Ms Mensa said her biggest motive was to be able to showcase the African product to internationally acceptable standards for everyday use, and expressed her satisfaction to be part of this as a woman.

“As a Ghanaian, to be able to produce pieces of African heritage for people to place in their space and enjoy using in their everyday life is great and shows we are making our country and women generally proud,” she explained.

She urged other women, particularly the youth, to stand up for themselves to be creative.

“Create something out of the unusual. I’m encouraging young women to endeavour to create something in their little world, instead of going out to always look for jobs,” she urged.


Appeal

Ms Mensa appealed for more support in the area of technology to enable entrepreneurs such as her produce to be able to compete internationally.

“We need machinery and materials to be able to produce more in volume. Financially, we also need help to move forward to be able to contribute to economic growth,” she added.