Garu (U/E), June 29, GNA - The Chiefs and People of Garu in the Upper East Region have lauded the efforts of CARE International, a non-governmental Organisation, for successfully implementing its food security project in the area.
The Agriculture value chain project dubbed the “Pathways Project” that begun five years ago in some selected communities in the area is contributing significantly to improve the livelihoods of smallholder women farmers in the area.
This came to light when beneficiaries of the project gave various testimonies at a two-day stakeholder forum, organised by the NGO at Garu to help address some of the challenges confronting women in agriculture.
The Chief of Kpatia, Seidu Amadu, who expressed happiness about the project, stated that apart from the agriculture value chain approach, soya bean farming that was promoted by the project was highly beneficial to the community members.
He stated that the promotion of soya bean farming and the demonstrations on how to prepare various dishes such as porridge, cakes, soups using soya bean, had also contributed to improve the nutritional needs of the people in the area, particularly children and pregnant women.
The District Development Planning Officer, Mr Iddrisu Kelly, who also commended CARE International, its collaborators and the funding agents including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Margaret Cargill Foundation, Jeffrey Peierls and Coca-Cola Foundation, stated that the promotion of the use of soya bean and groundnut farming were appropriate climatic resilient crops and should be replicated in other communities in the District.
Ms Gifty Sambo, a 38 year old smallholder farmer and a community women’s leader, stated that the project had also empowered them as smallholder women farmers to form Women Seed Growers groups, Farmer Field Based Schools, as well as created the necessary platform for them to have easy access to farm inputs and market linkages.
“We used to sell on the open market and we were cheated by middlemen, but with the introduction of the weighing scale and the formation of the Market Research Committees, we are no longer cheated like before. We now get good market through the companies we are linked to, and make profit,” she stated.
She said the about 150 women from the four zones namely Bupilsa, Yabraago, Napaadre, and Kpatia, had formed a Village Saving and Loans Association (VSLAs) which enabled them to contribute money and access loans to diversify their businesses during the dry season.
She said most of them were able to harvest about 11 mini bags depending on the number of acres of farmland they cultivated in each farming season.
“Through the interventions, most of us are now able to support our husbands to cater for the family, particularly the payment of our children’s school fees, health and food needs. I for instance, I am able to enroll in a tertiary institution where I am now studying a diploma programme. These are all through the sales of the harvest I make from the soya beans and groundnut farming”.
The Project Manager of Care International in charge of the Pathways Initiative Project, Ms Agnes Loriba, explained that the project which was being implemented by CARE International in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Garu Presbyterian Agricultural Station and the District Assembly sought to promote gender equitable agricultural systems and increase the productivity and empowerment of women farmers.
She stated that the project which was also being implemented in the Lambussie-Karni District in the Upper West Region was targeting directly about 1,841 female farmers and their families in the two beneficiary Districts and also indirectly reaching approximately 12,200 people.
She said as part of the project implementation, input fairs were held during every crop season for major input dealers to exhibit their products and for them to demonstrate the appropriate application of the inputs to farmers.