The drudgery of rural women farmers of carting their farm produce to and from the farms and to marketing centers, as well as carrying water for other household chores, will soon be a thing of the past.
This is as a result of the inaguration of a pilot Donkey Cart Transportation (DCT) Project by the World Food Programme (WFP), in partnership the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) and the Upper East Regional Agricultural Directorate and the Gratis Foundation at the SARI Research Station, Manga in the Bawku Municipality.
The project forms part of the efforts towards simple labour-saving technologies which can help women farmers reduce post-harvest losses and access to markets The Donkey Cart Transportation Project was developed under the WFP’s Enhanced Nutrition and Value Chains (ENVAC) initiative, funded by Canada but falls under the Sustainable Food Systems Component of WFP Ghana’s 2019-2023 country Strategic Plan.
The project aligns with the Gender and Markets initiative, Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy and the Upper East Regional Minister’s passion and long life gender advocacy.
In her inaugural address, the Deputy Director for Operations, Global Affairs, Canadian High Commission, Beverly Carmichael indicated that WFP supports countries to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger, by saving lives in emergencies and humanitarian crisis, and changing lives in development contexts, through simple, scalable, sustainable projects that address the different needs and priorities of women, men, girls and boys in vulnerable communities.
Despite women constituting over 50 percent of the agricultural labour force, women farmers in Ghana still lack access to basic farm input and machinery, land, credit and market to opportunities that will enable them to increase their productivity.
They cannot afford to hire and afford the various forms of transportation; they carry their farm produce on their heads bit by bit, to the storage or sales points.
This piecemeal approach results in high post-harvest losses caused by theft, bush fires, rodents and rotting of harvested food on farms, especially during the rainy season.
Research shows that, in developing countries 40 percent of food losses amounting to US$310 billion occur at the post-harvest and processing stages, while in industrialized countries more than 40 percent of food waste, roughly US$680 billion happen at the retail and consumer level.
The Project Director SARI Manga Dr. Francis Kusi stated that, the technologies developed by CSIR_SARI over the years in the area of improved crop varieties, sustainable crop protection strategies improved agronomic practices, integrated soil fertility and soil water management have resulted in considerable improvement in crop productivity at the farmers field.
Dr. Kusi lauded WFP for accepting the project idea and supporting to resource the poor women farmers with donkey and cart as an alternative and efficient means of transport, to help minimize post-harvest losses and access to market’.
The Upper East Regional Minister Paulina Abayage said that, women play a significant role in the food security and nutrition of their household in developing countries including Ghana; they make up almost half of the agricultural labor force.
They farm, cook, and sell food but their agricultural production is limited by difficulties in accessing finance, lack of farm inputs and extension services and some bearers to land ownership.
Paulina Abayage stressed that, the project complements the Planting for Food and Jobs programme which shows Nana Addo’s commitment to improve the food security and nutrition situation in the country.
She stated that, for the first time in many years, food production and availability increased significantly, leading to a bumper harvest of cereals, tubers and plantain.
The DCTP has twenty lead farmers from ten (10) farmer groups in (10) communities have been given 60 donkeys and 20, four wheel carts.
In all, the project is expected to benefit over One thousand, five hundred women and men. Some of the beneficiaries expressed their joy for the project saying, it will help ease their transportation problems with their group members, their families and the communities at large.
Story by Emmanuel Akayeti