- On March 24, 2015
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The President of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs has called on government to support smallholder farmers to increase their productivity and income by improving the provision of agricultural extension services, irrigation services and subsidized fertilizer under the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme.
Naba Sigri Bewong was speaking at a dialogue session organized by SEND-GHANA with funding by Oxfam in Ghana which was attended by chiefs, small holder farmers and Civil Society organization in the Region.
He acknowledged that women’s engagement in the agricultural sector of Ghana has come under constrained circumstances in spite of the fact that, they are responsible for up to 80% of food production. These constraints he mentioned come from different sources broadly categorized under policy and institutional challenges as well as constraints with regards to culture and intra-household power relations and access to services.
The President of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs pledged his support to help increase women’s access to land for agriculture purposes and called on chiefs in the region to address existing challenges to women’s access to agricultural lands.
Speaking at the meeting, Daniel Adotey, a Programme Officer of SEND–GHANA explained that, for us at SEND-GHANA, one of our priority working areas is to help smallholder farmers including women farmers to access all the things they need in the farming and we believe that when you support women farmer she will work get money and bring some home to take care of the children.
But we have observed that, there are some critical challenges facing smallholder farmers in this country including this region. They include access to fertilizer, access to Extension Services and more importantly access to land for farming.
All except land lies in the bosom of government. It is the Chiefs who are the custodians of the land lies in the domain of Traditional Authorities. We have advocated for government to continue with subsidized fertilizer programme and by April of this year according to government, the subsidized fertilizer will be released. We believe that, we have to work with the Traditional Authorities to see the need to help women to get land to till in order to earn some income to feed their families.
Our meeting therefore is to plead with Naba Sigri Bewong to work with his colleague Traditional leaders to help our women to get land for long term for the purpose of Agriculture. Naba Sigri assured the gathering that, Sakote Traditional area has no problem releasing land for women for Agriculture purpose and therefore the issue is not a challenge. He however added that, he cannot vouch for the other Traditional areas and therefore gave the assurance that, he will convey the message to his other 17 colleague Paramount Chiefs.
He cited the Widows and Orphans Movement which is already benefiting from large land release for their 250 tree mango farm plantations in Sakote that will begin producing fruit in the next few years. “If women want to expand their farm, there is an opportunity for them,” he assured. Monica Afana, a widow with two children complained of being robbed of her land as a result of her husband’s death. According to her, about half of her farmland was forcefully taken from her by her deceased husband’s elder brother.
“This has brought untold hardship on me and my children because we have to manage with the half that we have,” she lamented.
The dialogue session is one of the strategic activities under the Grow Campaign in Ghana with the aim of increasing spaces for enhanced accountability and political commitment to guarantee land tenure security for women and other small-scale farmers in the face of ‘land grabbing’ and other land security issues in Ghana.