Women smallholder farmers in Northern Ghana have been discriminated against through the implementation of separate Agric Inputs Support Programmes (AISPs) implemented by MoFA and SADA, a new survey conducted by NORTHCODE has revealed.
The survey observed that AISPs implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) in the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone (NSEZ) saw more men (75%) benefiting more than women (25%).
According to leader of the survey team, Godwin Bansah, Technical Service Providers (TSPs) implemented SADA’s AISP by facilitating the provision of agric inputs such as tractor service, seeds and fertilizers to the farmers whereas inputs dealers supplied subsidised fertiliser to farmers on behalf of MoFA.
He observed that the profit-making motive of the AISPs in MoFA and SADA as well as the risk of women defaulting in payment was partly to blame for the low number of women farmers being beneficiaries of the two programmes.
Mr. Bansah explained that, quantities of inputs provided to farmers depended on size of acreage of land cultivated, and SADA support was also based exclusively on a farmer’s ability to pay back, rather than any other considerations since the facility was a loan and not a grant. “Thus, fewer women farmers than men farmers benefitted from SADA’s AISP. Besides, of the 73 TSPs, less than 10 are female owned or managed”, he pointed out.
NORTHCODE is a Coalition for the Development of Western Corridor of Northern Region. It consists of Centre for Women Opportunities (CENWOPP) in Damongo, Kachito Community Development Centre (KCODEC) in Buipe, Tuna Women Development Programme (TUWODEP) in Tuna and Partners in Participatory Development (PAPADEV) in Bole.
According to Coordinator of NORTHCODE and Executive Director of CENWOPP Cletus Zume, the coalition exists to harness strengths, abilities, capacities and energies to support various communities to access the basic necessities of life such as good healthcare delivery, education, economic empowerment of women and also protecting the natural environment.
The survey, he noted, was conducted under NORTHCODE’s Inclusive Governance Programme dubbed: “Tracking Support for Women under SADA & MoFA Investments: Evidence from the NSEZ”.
The objective of the research was to assess the allocation of resources such as tractor ploughing services, seeds and fertilizers to women under both the AISPs of MoFA and SADA; assess gender parity among beneficiary groups in SADA and MoFA’s investments; Assess extent of gender sensitivity and mainstreaming in SADA and MoFA programme planning and implementation; and provide recommendations for policy reforms.
The survey was conducted in 20 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the NSEZ to complement the desk study. Face-to-face interviews and questionnaires were also sent to 15 District Directors of MoFA and MoFA input dealers as well as SADA officials and TSPs.
Responding to the report, SADA Coordinator for Agriculture, Abass Karim Nyo confirmed aspects of the survey, but pointed out that SADA initially set out to support smallholder farmers irrespective of whether farmers were able to pay back support given to them or not.
He explained that, because SADA did not have staff to directly implement the AISP, a decision was taken to recruit TSPs to implement the programme on behalf SADA. “The TSPs fearing that they might not be able to recover targets set for them by SADA, decided to target only farmers who could pay back support given to them. This is what affected the programme”, he explained.
A representative of MoFA Mr. Benjamin Acheampong also stated that, MoFA’s AISP was only targeting farmers who had the money to buy. “The target was not poor farmers but those who could buy with ready cash”, he pointed out, stressing that “NORTHCODE should do advocacy on behalf of poor and vulnerable farmers so that such inputs can be given freely to them”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bansah urged SADA’s management to consider either running a dual model under the AISP– a purely business model complemented by a food security model. “Under the purely business model, TSPs should be given the opportunity to support any commercial farmer who has the ability to repay while the food security model is geared towards enhancing the food security of the poor, particularly vulnerable women”, he stressed.
He also suggested that the current practice where the TSPs are left exclusively to determine who could access agriculture inputs and support under the AISP should be stopped. Instead, SADA he noted, should include in the proposed AISP business model, a condition that compels TSPs to support a certain number of women under the programme. “SADA should insist and ensure that all the TSPs have a fixed percentage of women as beneficiaries and this must be a precondition for their continuous existence as TSPs to SADA”, he said.
Mr. Bansah further called on MoFA to consider repackaging their mineral fertilisers into 5kg and 10kg mini bags to address the current problem where women do not have enough resources to buy the 50kg mineral fertilisers. “This would ensure that a lot more women, than now, are able to afford fertilizers for their farms”, he indicated, adding that “Government should also endeavour to make available the mineral fertilizers on time so they become useful to farmers instead of the current situation where subsidized fertilizers are almost only available in the middle of the cropping season. This does not do the farmers much good”, he opined.