To mark International Women's Day this month, we’re highlighting stories from women who have benefitted from activities of SNV Ghana and UNCDF’s GrEEn Project, funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) for Africa.
One of these women is Rachael Gyan, a young female farmer in who's learning and practising sustainable agriculture.
Rachael Gyan is 25 years old and the seventh of eight children. She comes from the Ellembelle District in Ghana’s Western region but currently lives in Kwasimtim in Takoradi. Growing up, Racheal wanted to be a nurse, however, did not have this dream fulfilled as her University class was full and not taking any more applicants. Her next option was Renewable Natural Resources with a speciality in Ecotourism and Environmental Management.
'To be honest, I didn’t find anything exciting or of interest to me until my third year when we started discussing sustainable farming. It was during this course that I decided I wanted to go into farming.'
After her first degree, she was posted to one of the international extractive industry companies in Ghana in their environment department where she was exposed to rehabilitation and sustainability practices.
Finding the future in GrEEn
After her one-year service with the mining company was over, Rachael struggled to find a job and was actively job searching when a friend forwarded an advert to her on WhatsApp. The GrEEn Project was offering skills training to youth job seekers in the areas of sustainable agriculture. Rachel’s interest was piqued, and she applied for the programme.
'I already had an interest in farming and had had some experience with sustainability and promoting environmental protection due to my working experience. I wanted to learn more about the types of farming activities that will not harm the earth.'
A few weeks later, she received a call that informed her that she had been shortlisted to participate in the training and decided to go with the employability pathway instead of entrepreneurship pathway because of the internship programme associated with the employability training.
'During the two-week training, we were taken through lessons on preparing for the job market, writing a good CV, time and conflict management as well as interpersonal and leadership skills. I was excited about the internship programme because I have realised that most of the agricultural practices that we do is full of chemicals and I wanted to learn ways of farming without using harmful chemicals and that was good for the environment.'
Farming without chemicals
In January, Racheal was posted to TrustEco, an integrated eco-inclusive farming company in Kajebil, a community in Takoradi in the Western region
'At TrustEco, I have achieved my goal- which is learning to farm without chemicals. Some of the practices I have learnt is using the topsoil and mixing it with manure and doing direct planting but not unto the land, we plant in sacks, which is eco-friendly and is something I was not aware. Most people want to plant but there is no space or land for them to do so. We have opted for the greenhouse and the use of the sacks to reduce land use.'
'Green farming is important and should be what we do in Ghana. We have to start planting without chemicals, using eco-friendly products which would help us grow more and prevent diseases.'
The sustainable agriculture sector has a lot of opportunities and for Rachel, she is determined to be one of the women farmers promoting green farming.
'This is a two-month internship programme and I have only been here for a month but within that period, I have learnt a lot of sustainable farming practices and no longer have any interest in nursing, I want to focus solely on sustainable farming and want to thank the GrEEn Project and TrustEco for making it possible for me to learn and work in the sustainable agriculture sector.'