By Alex Hitzemann
At a Conference on Friday, agribusiness experts and government officials gathered to make plans for the coming years. It was suggested that accelerated policy reforms and further investments in transport and storage infrastructure would be a major priority for Ghana in the coming years. The other major theme of Friday’s forum was empowering women to exit poverty by participating in agricultural activities.
Taluma Irene Banda, a gender specialist at Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), believes comprehensive reforms in the policy and legal environment of Ghana were crucial to promote female led agribusiness.
“Many women across Sub-Saharan Africa are keen to venture into agribusiness, but huge barriers have stifled their aspirations. We cannot lift our economies from stagnation if women remain subsistence farmers,” Banda explained.
“African women contribute 70 percent of food production, yet they are stuck in poverty due to lack of access to markets. Other limitations, such as, lack of land tenure and inadequate capital are to blame for limited female participation in agribusiness,” another expert remarked.
African governments need to empower women in agribusiness through training, exposure to global supply chains, and provision of subsidized inputs like seeds and fertilizer.
Jemima Njuki, a Senior Program Officer at the Canadian International Development Research Center (IDRC), noted that distorted value chains and lack of access to credit discouraged women from taking up agribusiness.“The entire agriculture value chain from production, transport, storage and markets should be reformed to incorporate female needs and aspirations,” Njuki said.
“Evidence-based research indicates that African women who benefited from capacity building and credit pioneered successful agribusinesses,” said concluded.