To be a female farmer in the West Mamprusi District of northern Ghana is to be a woman of endless patience, persistence, and above all, hope.
She must wait her turn, after male counterparts, to get her crops planted, fertilized, sprayed with pesticides, and harvested by a contract farmer. If she waits too long, she risks missing the optimal windows to ensure a healthy and bountiful yield.
Not only do female farmers bear primary responsibility for childrearing, they are also expected to grow enough food to supplement the crops their husbands produce in order to feed their families and send their children to school.
To learn from and support each other, the women have come together with the help of the non-profit organization TechnoServe to form a farmers’ cooperative, where they receive training on not only agricultural practices, but entrepreneurship, and creating new markets for their crops. Together as a group, they grow ground nuts and maize, in addition to crops on their family farms. They are eager to learn, and to share their knowledge.
Alhassan Salimu farms two acres of land in order to send her two daughters to school. She is quick to point out, “Before you help us, you need to educate us!”
Above all, TechnoServe has helped these women understand that farming has the potential to be a business, not just a source of survival.
Abigail Anabil is 31 years old, single, and driven to learn as much as she can about farming and related businesses in order to support her mother and extended family.
Slowly, the women are beginning to feel empowered through the training they’ve received.
And they are hopeful about the opportunities to improve their incomes by finding new markets for their crops.