Farmers in focus: Healthy food for rural women
In the district of Lawra, Ghana, a group of female leaders is campaigning in their communities to convince other women to consume fresh and local foods on which no pesticides are used.
Farming Matters | 29.3 | September 2013
My title in the community is 'Pognaa', which means traditional queen. Many families in the district where we live, Lawra, are not able to provide themselves with three meals a day and this causes them a lot of grief. For years, the government provided free chemicals and fertilizers to farmers as part of the Green Revolution strategy. Now, we see that this has led to serious land degradation. The farm lands are in a terrible state and do not produce enough food to feed the families.
This has led me and fellow women farmers to begin to sensitise other women about the effects of pesticides on vegetables and food crops. At the markets and in private homes, we tell other women about the negative effects of pesticide use, and about healthier alternatives.
At a recent food fair, we displayed our local traditional foods, on which no pesticides are used. These crops are also highly nutritional and drought resistant. Traditional leaders and dignitaries from various regions were present to grace the occasion and expressed their support. Local women sang songs about the harmful effects of the use of chemicals on food crops and vegetables.
These activities have contributed to the spread of farming practices that don’t use agrochemicals. In some of the villages, the women no longer spray chemical pesticides. They collect animal droppings and use them as manure and to deter harmful insects. There is also a visible increase in the availability of traditional food and crops at the markets. One example is dawa-dawa, a local condiment that used to be popular before being abandoned for industrial Maggi cubes.
We see the promotion of healthy, traditional crops as a step towards food sovereignty for rural women in northern Ghana.
Patricia Dianon, chair of the Rural Women Farmers Association of Ghana (RUWFAG).