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Stakeholders advocate women access to productive farmlands for food security. Local level stakeholder dialogue held at Walewale in the West Mamprusi Municipality of the North East Region have underscored a need for women to have access to productive farmlands to undertake agricultural activities.
According the stakeholders, women possessed the potentials to contribute significantly to household food and nutritional security if they had access to productive lands, coupled with available inputs and farm implements to venture in farming activities.
To this end, they advocated landowners, family heads, chiefs and local government authorities in charge of farmlands to release fertile lands to women farmers and the government to design agriculture policies that responded to the needs of smallholder women farmers especially those in rural communities
Meta Foundation, a Non- Governmental Organisation organised the dialogue as part of the implementation of a project dubbed “Action for Women Empowerment” with funding support from STAR Ghana Foundation under its “Actions for Voice and Inclusive Development (AVID)”.
Naa Mbah Jacob Kanzoni, the Divisional Chief of Arigu, one of the beneficiary communities, indicated that many of the women in his community were farmers, however, many had only access to uplands because the wetlands had been occupied by men.
He said due to the land tenure system in the area most of the fertile lands were owned by families and appealed to the heads of the families to release fertile lands especially those closer to water sources to the women to undertake farming activities to support the families.
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“When your wife has access to farmlands and cultivates crops she will be able to support the family and that is what every man should do,” the Chief said.
“The lands we the chiefs control are small but our community is closer to the forest reserve which is controlled by the Forestry Commission and it would be appropriate if some portions are released for farming activities”.
Madam Esther Ada, a member of the Gbeo Maaltaaba Women Group, indicated that apart from finding it difficult to get productive lands, the women farmers needed support in the area of agro inputs, farm implements and extension services to be able to undertake their faming activities.
“We cultivate all kinds of crops and vegetables but because we are usually given the uplands, the lands are always far from the water source and it is expensive to pump water to the farms,” she said.
The engagement which brought together chiefs, women, farmers, youth, assembly members, Fulani community, security agencies, and government institutions among others was to create a platform for the stakeholders to brainstorm on possible local solutions to some identified development challenges facing the communities.
Some of the challenges include women access to productive farmlands, farmer-herder conflict, security, access to potable water and education and perennial flooding caused by the spillage of the Bagre dam from Burkina Faso among others.
Mr David Amozebga, Programmes Manager, Meta Foundation, said the project was a 15-month project being rolled out in 10 communities in the West and East Municipalities with the aim of empowering rural women and improving the livelihoods of households largely through community dialogue and Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) approach.
He said the project targeted communities along the White Volta with the aim of helping to promote peaceful coexistence between farmers and Fulani herdsmen which had become a major challenge in many farming communities and support women groups to add value to natural resources such as shea.
He said the project had not only contributed to empowering women economically through the VSLA initiative where existing women groups were strengthened but had contributed to building the capacity of women to participate in decision making regarding the management and protection of natural resources.