Source: "Women farmers in Upper West receive support" by Michael Quaye and Agnes O. Amoah on Graphics Online
About 20,000 women farmers in the Upper West Region are benefitting from agricultural extension services and other facilities to improve on food production and reduce poverty.
The project is being funded by the Canadian Government at a cost of $20 million, with support from Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).
The project involve 662 women's groups of about 30 members each, and cover 190 communities in 11 districts of the region. The six-year project, which is in its third year of implementation, involves the supply of a simple electronic device called the Talking Book to each of the women's groups.
The device contains audio messages recorded by experts in agriculture on soyabean farming, and it is intended to enhance agricultural extension services to the women farmers. The project was piloted last year in 30 communities within the Lambussie-Karni District.
The initiative is under the Greater Rural Opportunity Women (GROW) project in the region which offers information on health and nutrition, gender sensitisation, value chain and marketing for agricultural products, and village loans and savings associations to the beneficiary women.
At a day's sensitisation workshop for lead farmers drawn from Nadowli-Kaleo and Daffiama-Bussie-Issa districts, Mr Andy Bayor, Research and Development/ICT Manager of Literacy Bridge, Ghana, a non-governmental organisation in the Upper West Region, said the successful implementation of a pilot project on the use and relevance of the device had necessitated the expansion to cover the entire region.
He said the device had come to save time for other partners in the project who otherwise would have needed to transport personnel and experts onto the fields to engage farmers.
The project, according to the Programme Coordinator of MEDA, Mr Livinus Balog, was a collaboration between MEDA and Literacy Bridge, with support from key facilitating partners, including ProNet North, Partnership for Rural Development Action (PRUDA), Country Aid for Rural Development (CARD) and Centre for the Alleviation of Poverty, Environment and Child Support.
He said the ratio of one extension officer to about 500 farmers in the region had made it almost impossible for the extension officers to be useful to farmers or effective in their work.
"The device bridges that gap and helps the women farmers to acquire some knowledge that may otherwise never be available to them because of the small number of extension officers around," he said.