Women smallholder farmers in the Akwapim South District in Ghana are improving the production and processing of organic pineapples and increasing their income thanks to an Australian funded project led by Australia Awards recipient Dr Freda Asem.
After completing an Australia Awards short course in Agribusiness run by the University of Queensland, Dr Asem applied for an Australia Direct Aid Program grant to undertake a value chain analysis of pineapple farming in selected communities. Her findings revealed there was a market for organic pineapples and she set up the project to empower female farmers in Akwapim South District.
According to the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, pineapples comprise 24 per cent of all horticultural exports. Farming in Ghana occurs mainly on a smallholder basis, with 80 per cent of farms on less than two hectares. These farmers face challenges from 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 low incomes.
Dr Asem’s project is helping 30 women in the Apantam-Attakrom Amanfro Women Pineapple Farmers Group to overcome farming 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 use of two acres of land, empowering women who ordinarily would not have access to land.