Tuesday 24th July, 2012Printable Version
A GNA feature by Fati Anafu
Bolgatanga, July 24, GNA - Teach a woman how to fish and she would provide fish forever. The Wedaga, Sonoo and Unity women's groups in the Kassena-Nankana District of the Upper East Region have every cause to be happy in their new enterprise of processing and production of “Potaghurt”, a refreshing drink made from sweet potato turned into yoghurt, one of the initiatives of the Root and Tuber Improvement Programme (RTIMP) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA).
Numbering 48, the three women's groups together produced 6,000 litres of “Potaghurt” drink every month for sale in the region. The women also process the potato into making doughnuts and other confectioneries.
The project if supported effectively would improve the women's economic fortunes and reduce poverty which poses a huge challenge to women in the three northern regions.
This is because the crop is locally produced and its cultivation is less labour intensive.
This value added know-how helps in empowering women, increases their economic role and ability to fend for themselves and their families, and bridges the poverty gap that has kept them in a vulnerable position because they lack access to land and landed property.
The initiative is a welcome bid especially now that world leaders at the just ended RIO+20 meeting in Brazil pledged to work towards addressing gender inequality, climate change, and food insecurity for sustainable development.
These moves challenge the Ghana Government to give impetus to projects initiated by women to improve their lives and that of their children. In a country where poverty and inequalities are present there are bound to be social and environmental crisis.
Since there cannot be progress in a deteriorating resource base environment, there is the need for creating job avenues to improve women's economic power so that the country's march towards achieving the millennium development Goals (MDGs) 2015 does not leave women behind.
The IFAD and Government of Ghana sponsored Venture, according to Mr Lambert Dandeebo, Zone-One Coordinator in charge of the RTIMP in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Volta Regions, places particular emphasis on the production of the sweet potato crop among farmers in those areas to fill up the gap during the lean season.
He said currently under the RTIMP intervention, there are improved planting material provided for farmers to increase production levels. He said between eight and 14 metric tons of the crop are being produced annually by farmers under this initiative.
An all- year- round production of the crop is guaranteed to enable the women in Kassena-Nanakan to continue to have fresh tubers for the production of the potaghurt drink, he stated.
Sweet Potato (Solanum Tuberosum) is not a common staple on the Ghanaian market. Most often, it is used as a hunger brake crop and is commonly cultivated by families in very small quantities for consumption only during the hunger or lean season, and also for the celebration of festivals.
A few women have tried to add value to it by frying and selling it by the roadside and in the markets. It is also commonly roasted at home for consumption by individual families, but after a while it would eventually disappear from the markets until the next harvesting season.
The crop now ranks as number four on the list of food crops globally with production nearing 315 metric tonnes.
Potato production in the Upper East Region takes an average of 5,470 hectares constituting 3.3 metric tonnes for production per hectare.
The RTIMPs Intervention, among other things, aims at improving the productivity of processors and enhancing incomes which would ultimately improve the living standards of small-scale root and tuber crop farmers, processors and traders, particularly women and youth groups.