It has been a week since International Women’s Day was celebrated. However, at Sesi Technologies, the celebration is far from over as we have dedicated the entire month of March to celebrate and highlight women in agriculture. Last week we celebrated Naa Shika Koshie for International Women’s Day. This week, we celebrate Lois Yennuman Yowsah, an agripreneur focused on crop production and commodity trading. Continue reading to find out more about her and what she has to say about employing innovation and technology in her agribusiness.
SesiTech: Hello Lois, tell us who you are, how you got into agriculture and why. Is it something you have always wanted to do? Also, which aspect of agriculture are you into?
Lois: My name is Lois Yennuman Yowsah. Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Agri Impact Farming Services Ltd, an agribusiness focused on crop production and commodities trading. It wasn’t until July 2021 that I went fully into agriculture by divine arrangement as I believe. I only wrote a comment on maize farming under a post on one platform on Facebook about farming. The next thing I knew there were five ladies in my DM telling me they were interested in farming.
I was actually clueless on maize farming and newly unemployed. After praying to God, I felt an inclination to put them together in a WhatsApp group and talk to them on farming as one group. This, they agreed to do. After discussions and deliberations, they paid their monies to me and I quickly bought the seeds, other inputs and headed off to the north to start farming. Today, we have increased to over 40 investors farming maize, beans and vegetables in a greenhouse.
SesiTech: The agricultural landscape in Ghana seems to be male-dominated. Is this the reality? If yes, why do you think it is so? If it’s not the reality, why do you think it seems so?
Lois: In the NorthEast Region where the open fields farms are located, women are dominant in agriculture though they mostly do not own the fields they cultivate. They do the sowing, fertilizer applications, the harvests, the winnowing and the trading. Women in Ghana generally are responsible for buying and preparing food. So while it may seem as though agriculture is male dominated, it is not.
SesiTech: This year’s International Women’s Day theme is innovation and technology for gender equality. How does that relate to you as a woman in agriculture? What are some of the challenges and what do you think should be?
Lois: The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is so relatable to my agribusiness in so many ways. When I started farming I realized that I didn’t have as much control as I thought I would have. From the process of acquiring land, finding the right seeds and nutrients, land preparation to sowing, to germination of the seeds to the rain fall to the pests to the harvests, the storage to finding buyers, to negotiating to transporting goods to buyers is a long chain of challenges.
These led me to start researching better methods for farming and doing agribusiness. The challenges never go away entirely. I sourced and invested in a planter to cut down the cost of labor and other related challenges. Eventually I had to consider farming in a greenhouse for a more controlled farming experience.
In the greenhouse, we have the opportunity to use technology and innovations such as drip irrigation and hydroponics. These are well regulated farming systems. In terms of equality, I often get people wondering how I access funds to execute such costly methods of crop production. I wonder back, “ Why not?” I think women should be trusted more and given much more benefit of the doubt until we prove otherwise. In fact, women are better managers.
SesiTech: Agriculture is hard work. Work that often requires you to get your hands dirty. In our world today, there’s a perception that work like agriculture is for “village” people and illiterates. So many parents do not encourage their graduate wards to go into agriculture. What do you have to say about this?
Lois: Yes, agriculture is harder work than I thought. There is nothing wrong with getting one’s hands dirty so long as there is water available to wash the dirt off afterwards. The truth is that agriculture needs specialists and experts who are educated in the many facets of agriculture to achieve the food security and zero hunger we cry about. There are career paths in agriculture. There is a living in agriculture. There is wealth in agriculture. Anyone looking down on agriculture is misinformed.
SesiTech: Finally, does Ghana have hope in the agricultural landscape? What do you suggest we do better? Will you advise more young women like yourself to get into agriculture? And what values, principles and worldview has kept you going?
Lois: There is a real problem in Ghana. Our food security is very poor. I am contributing my quota through crop production. The fact that I am reducing hunger keeps me going. I encourage my fellow Women to consider agriculture and contribute in whichever way that they can. I am glad that 90% of my Investors are women. They can’t presently dirty their hands but they are emptying their pockets of hard earned money to support the building of greenhouses and other farming activities. Women should read and research more on agriculture, food security and gender inequality. They will be sad at reading our own realities.
Lois Yennuman Yowsah is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Agri Impact Farming Services Ltd, an agribusiness focused on crop production and commodities trading. She is helping women make more money through investments in agriculture. Find her on social media @Lois Yennuman Yowsah or follow her business, Agri Impact on all social media platforms.