Empowering female pineapple farmers in Ghana
- Australia Awards
Women smallholder farmers in the Akwapim South District in Ghana are improving the production and processing of organic pineapples and increasing their incomes, thanks to an Australian-funded project led by Australia Awards alumna, Dr Freda Asem.
Women smallholder farmers in the Akwapim South District in Ghana are improving the production and processing of organic pineapples and increasing their incomes, thanks to an Australian-funded project led by Australia Awards , Dr Freda Asem.
Following her participation in a short course in Agribusiness, run by the University of Queensland, Dr Asem applied to the Australian High Commission in Accra for Direct Aid Program funding to use her newly acquired skills in value chain analysis to improve pineapple farming in selected communities. Her findings revealed there was a market for organic pineapples and she set up the project to empower women farmers in Akwapim, South District, to take advantage of this opportunity.
According to the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, pineapples contribute 24 per cent to total horticultural exports from the country. Europe is a key market, importing up to 900,000 tonnes in recent years, almost exclusively from developing countries. While there are excellent opportunities for commercial production, farming in Ghana occurs mainly on a smallholder basis, with 80 per cent of farms on less than two hectares, and farmers facing challenges, such as a lack of access to input credit and marketing opportunities. Women are particularly disadvantaged, with an inability to own land and other inputs, which means they tend to work on other people’s farms and earn of income.
Dr Asem’s project is helping 30 women in the Apantam-Attakrom Amanfro Women Pineapple Farmers Group to overcome these structural challenges and become economically independent. The project provides them with resources, training and services to produce and process smooth cayenne pineapples, including a simple technology for drying the fruit. Most importantly, the project gives the farmers of two acres of land, empowering women who ordinarily would not have had access to land.
Following the first harvest, Dr Asem continued to apply the skills she learnt, while in Australia, analysing the efficiency and productivity of the women’s project and creating ideas to improve their income stream and reduce wastage.
Her support has also given the women a better understanding of the key drivers of success and efficiency in the pineapple value chain, such as an enabling economic environment, favourable policies and the availability of resources.
Her intervention is empowering women to add value to the pineapples and generate more income, which will benefit their families and their community. The women have demonstrated their capability and willingness to continue with this initiative after the project has ended.
The Australian High Commission in Accra congratulated Dr Asem on the contribution she has made to development in Ghana and affirmed Australia’s commitment to support her project.
“We’re particularly focused on projects that support economic
gender equality, so Dr Asem’s work, supporting women smallholder farmers, is an excellent fit for us. We’re keen to support projects like this, where Alumni implement award-gained skills and knowledge to the benefit of the broader community,” a representative from the High Commission said.
Dr Asem is also sharing her skills in her work as an academic in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at the University of Ghana. She has continued her engagement with Australia Awards, working with the University of Queensland to facilitate the African component of the Agribusiness Short Course when it was delivered in Ghana in 2017.
She identified, coordinated and facilitated the interaction of course participants with various actors in the different value chains, coaching them to apply their value chain analysis skills to the sector.