Study reveals disappointing 20.13% women participation in PFJ

Although women’s contribution to the agricultural sector remains crucial, only 20.13 percent of them actively participated in government’s Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative, says a study by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG).

Presenting findings of the study, titled ‘Assessment of women’s participation in the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme’, during a stakeholder workshop focused on the role of women in the new Planting for Food and Jobs Programme held in Accra, the Head of Programmes-PFAG, Bismark Owusu Nortey, pointed out that the lowest level of women’s participation in the programme was recorded in the Eastern, Central and Ashanti Regions. Conversely, the Greater Accra and Upper East Regions reported the highest levels of participation.

He linked the diminished involvement to absence of a strategic mechanism for supplying sufficient capital to women in agriculture. This was further compounded by delayed delivery of inputs and insufficient distribution to certain regions, as well as the cultivation of crops that receive minimal fertiliser application.

“There was no indication of any empowerment initiatives directed toward women farmer-based organisations (FBOs) in terms of leadership training, nor were there any regional gender teams in evidence. Both women and men were required to compete equally for access to inputs within the programme. No safety nets were in place to facilitate women’s access to credit and other resources necessary for purchasing the desired quantity of inputs. Consequently, women generally procured smaller quantities compared to men,” he remarked.

He further noted that efforts to target and prioritise women were left to the discretion of retailers. Additionally, aggregators and marketers – a sector predominantly populated by women, encountered challenges such as post-harvest losses, an inadequate transportation system, poor road conditions and encounters with security officials, among other issues.

Mr. Nortey emphasised that value chains primarily led by women were not given precedence in the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative.

Expectations for the new PFJ

During his presentation of the 2023 mid-year budget review, finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta disclosed that government is in the concluding stages of Phase II of the PFJ programme – aiming to enhance precise and effective assistance to the agricultural sector.

The upcoming Phase II comprises essential components including an inputs credit system, establishment of storage and distribution infrastructure, facilitation of commodity trading and implementation of a digitized platform

Touching on the announcement, Mr. Nortey emphasised that the PFAG envisions a purposeful engagement, active participation and deliberate focus on women’s inclusion in Phase II of the programme.

Beyond the need to empower more women to assume the role of aggregators, he expressed PFAG’s further expectation for Phase II of PFJ to establish a financing scheme that ensures comprehensive resourcing for women aggregators.

“We therefore call for transparency of aggregator selection criteria and reserving a quota about 30 percent for women aggregators; or selected aggregators should work with FBOs with at least 40 percent of women as members,” he said.

Stella Chibelitu, a representative of PFAG’s women’s wing, bemoaned the lack of deliberate efforts to address challenges that women face in the agricultural sector – noting the yet-to-be-reviewed PFJ “did not offer any benefit for us, especially after 2017”.

“We all know that it is mostly women who lead the buying and selling of agricultural goods. Government must not leave us behind in the new PFJ,” she said.