guest essay: women inspire, girls empowered
Christabel Afrane is not only a farmer with a successful business model that helps lift other women into their own businesses - but she is also the President and Founder of the Kairos Ladies Network, Girls Go Green Project. Their mission is to inspire girls through agribusiness mentoring. I've been following Christabel's work and efforts in Ghana on twitter / twitter for some time now, and I was so pleased she agreed to do a q&a with us and share more about her farm, her work in mentoring young women and advocacy for women in agriculture. I know you'll be as inspired as I am!
How long have you been farming? (are you first generation?)
I relish the days when I used to go to the farm with my grandmother whenever I visited her in the village. Just a year ago I gathered the courage to start a poultry farm with only 75 cockerels. Today, the farm has 900 layers, 500 cockerels and 400 broilers.
What kind of education or career did you pursue before farming?
I have a Masters of Arts in International Affairs and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science both of the University of Ghana. Since completing school, I have worked in the development arena on with international NGOs on projects that support vulnerable people in communities especially women and young people.
What was the impetus to pursue farming?
I have always loved nature and fascinated about how things blossom. I was also captivated by the numerous entrepreneurial opportunities in the area which unfortunately is overshined by misconceptions and myths. Additionally, I love adventures and challenges.
What did you do to prepare/educate yourself for this new role?
I visited lots of farms and spoke to local farmers. I networked with officers from the Ministry of Food and Agric in my district and they provide me with very useful information. I also research a lot on the internet.
What skills do you use that you did not expect?
Time management, proper planning and organizational skills
What is your biggest challenge?
Finance is one of my greatest challenge as feeding of the birds are very expensive and the capital needed for the structure is huge.
What personality characteristics do you have that drew you to farming in the first place?
Humility – the information and knowledge local farmers is overwhelming and it is only by being humble that you can learn from them.
Paying attention to detail is critical to attaining healthy eggs and chicken
What has been the biggest reward?
Receiving positive feedback from customers who purchase our produce. Compliments on the taste of our chicken, the colour and sizes of the eggs and the fact that our eggs can be kept for weeks without going bad.
What do you want your food to convey to others?
Women can own and manage farms and that Agric presents lots of entrepreneurial opportunities for young women. Also the fact the farm is an alternative source of livelihood.
What do you wish people understood about farming?
Farming is not a man’s job. Farming is not for the old and poor.
Farming presents a means to feed yourself, family and community. Starting Kairos Ladies Network has provided a great means to advocate for participation of girls and women in Agribusiness. Through our All Girls Agribusiness summits we have provided female senior high school students with information on the various careers and entrepreneurial opportunities in the area. The girls had the opportunity to network with young women who are doing amazing things in the sector. Farm trips have also been organized for these girls to help them understand the agric value chain.
What are some things we can do to help create support, equality and awareness for women farmers and small-scale farms?
Provide technical and hands on training for women, provide opportunities for women to learn from other farms. Support women both financially and technically to add value to their produce. Create avenues that will recognize the work of women farmers. Provide women farmers with interest free loans.
What resources are you lacking in order to be successful?
Feed mill and easy access to corn
Land access is one of the big challenges to smaller farmers. Do you own your land? Rent? Share?
The farmland belongs to the Presbyterian Church of Ghana at Oyarifa, a suburb in Accra and I am using by their permission. This was made easy because we live close to the land and are members of the church.
How much of your farm business is driven by community need vs your passions?
The farm was started solely on passion but as the business is beginning to grow it is gradually being driven by community need as the market for eggs is huge and this is also providing employment for women in the area because they can get eggs on credit and pay back after sales.