From William Nlanjerbor JALULAH, Bolgatanga
SOCODEVI, in collaboration with Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana (YHFG), is poised to roll-out an improved but simple and cost effective technology for rice parboiling for 56 women Farmer-Based Organisations in three districts of the Upper East Region of Ghana.
In all, 56 women Farmer-Based Organisations with 1,406 women drawn from Bawku West district, Navrongo Municipality and Bolgatanga Municipality, will benefit from the five-year project.
The project, dubbed – The Inclusive and Sustainable Model Cooperative Development Program (PROCED) is a SOCODEVI’s Project with financial support from the government of Canada and will contribute to four Sustainable Development Goals in the Upper East region.
It will help reduce extreme poverty and hunger, increase gender equality and empower women and girls, promote sustained shared and sustainable economic growth and significantly contribute to the fight against climate change and its impacts.
Technical support in specific production for women, combined with women-specific business management training will contribute significantly to their economic empowerment and increase their power in decision-making processes for economic development in households, enterprises and cooperatives.
In the rice parboiling process, SOCODEVI will implant activities and support women and girls in the beneficiary districts by creating a community cooperative.
For the achievement of these goals, gender equality and environmental issues are in the center of the programme.
With the technology, rice thrash is poured into steel ovens as fuel and fire set on it to parboil the rice in a pot.
According to an Environmental Specialist with Proced Project, Raphael Asuure, the use of rice thrash as fuel is environmentally friendly, economical and also produces minimal heat as compared with firewood, which is often used by women rice parboilers.
He said after the parboiling is done, the ash produced from the thrash is used as manure for crop production.
At an engagement meeting with some women rice parboilers and stakeholders in Bolgatanga, Proced Project Coordinator, Beatrice Esses said if the women parboilers must be empowered economically, it will take key stakeholders in society to promote their products and services.
In a media interview, Madam Esses said their visits to some parts of the region revealed some women are not treated well, which is one of the reasons her project seeks to empower them economically and also for them to speak out.
She said, “So we chose Upper East Region to help women, to empower women, to teach them and train them on how to do this parboiling process properly and help them become independent women.”
The Project Coordinator also said, “We are hoping to form a cooperative. We are putting about a thousand four hundred and six (1,406) women together to form one big cooperative and that is why I said we will do milling services, we will do packing and then they will sell. Basically, all the women are coming together to form one cooperative and then they have the power to sell at profitable prices. So when they come together in a cooperative, eventually when they are big enough, they can even buy their own milling machine and other things. But initially, we will support them with financing new equipment for them and eventually they will have to pay for it themselves because the cooperative will pay for it with the profit they make.”
Gender Officer of Proced Project, Abigail Adumolga, observed that women face a lot of challenges at the family level, which have relegated them to the background as some traditional norms do not favour them including procession of land for farming and other commercial purposes. This, she said affects economic empowerment of women and called on traditional leaders and other stakeholders to address it.
The paramount chief of Bongo Traditional Area doubles as Vice President of Upper East Regional House Chiefs, Naba Baba Salifu Lemyaruum, lauded the initiative and pledged to facilitate acquisition of land in his traditional area for women rice parboilers who want to engage in farming.
A gender advisor at SOCODEVI Quebec, Canada, Pulchérie Nomo Zibi, was impressed about the level of commitment from the Bongo chief and all stakeholders including the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly and the Department of Gender in the region.
She was also optimistic the project will be a success in the region and encouraged women rice parboilers to embrace the new technology. SOCODEVI’s Proced Project is in Ghana, Sengal and Cote d’ Ivoire.