IMPROVING ACCESS TO FARM LANDS

A 23 year old female farmer  and member of the Unity and Progressive Women Farmers Cooperative Society Limited (PUWOFACS), Madam Rabinatu Yahaya, is happy that many women within the Wa Municipality in the Upper West Region now have access to arable farmlands. She said the increased access to farmlands is helping a group of women in the Wa Municipality to increase their agricultural productivity and improve upon their livelihoods.

Madam Yahaya also testified that many women have gained access to arable lands, which is enabling them to expand their rice cultivation business to earn more income.

“Here in the Wa area, access to farm lands has always been difficult for women like us. But through dialogue, we were able to convince traditional authorities, land owners and officials of the Customary Lands Secretariat in WA to release lands to women to enhance our agricultural business. In the end, the chiefs themselves assisted us to secure 10 acres of land at Nokore, a village in the Upper West region, making it possible for women of PUWOFACS to expand their rice cultivation in the new farming season”, Madam Yahaya disclosed.

She also expressed her joy that the advocacy action presented a rare opportunity and skills for them to sit at the dialogue table to persuade traditional leaders and other custodians of lands in the municipality to release arable lands to women farmers to facilitate their farming business.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to engage with our leaders and with our newly acquired 10-acre farmland, we hope to produce a minimum of 300 bags of rice in the next harvest, each of which will sell at an average of GH¢ 120.00. This will enable us to earn enough to feed our families and cater for our children’s education”, Madam Yahaya remarked.  

One other notable achievement of PUWOFACS is that the association’s advocacy action has opened doors of support from other development agencies. 

The patron of the PUWOFACS, Mr. Salifu Adama pointed out that as a result of the advocacy action, the association had fruitful discussions with the Ghana Trade and Livelihoods Coalition (GTLC), who have now provided two tractors to enable members of PUWOFACS to plough their farms.

Members of PUWOFACS are also testifying that their successful advocacy action has also impacted positively on the growth and development of the association. 

“Seeing the positive achievements gained from our advocacy action, many women farmers in the Wa municipality have started joining our association. The total membership of our association, which stood at 439 at the start of our advocacy action, has now increased to 490, with four new other farming associations promising to join us soon”, Mr. Adama revealed. 

Traditionally, women’s access to customary farm lands in the Wa municipality has always been restricted mainly because most lands in the municipality are owned and controlled by men. Lands leased to women for farming are often small in size and non rewarding and their acquisition often required mediation by male relations. Women farmers in the Wa municipality are therefore unable to get lands for commercial farming to increase their incomes and improve upon their livelihoods. 

In an attempt to make farm lands more accessible to women farmers in the municipality, the leadership of PUWOFACS sought the assistance of the BUSAC Fund to enable them advocate the release of customary farm lands to women farmers in the Wa municipality. With the support of its development partners, DANIDA, USAID and the EU, the BUSAC Fund provided PUWOFACS with an advocacy grant that enabled the association to conduct research into the problem and undergo training on how to effectively advocate. Armed with the requisite advocacy skills and empirical data from the research, members of the association were able to successfully dialogue with and persuade traditional authorities and customary land owners to lease more arable lands to women farmers for commercial agricultural purposes.

Story: Ebenezer Kpentey, the BUSAC Fund.