In Ghana majority of the 30.8 million Population live in rural areas. Over 40% of the population are small scale farmers. Majority of these people are poor farmers who earn less than US$2 a day and live in deprived rural communities. Today, farmers and the nation are faced with food insecurity and rising poverty worsened by the effects of climate change. These are in addition to the several problems facing farmers which have been neglected by successive governments through lip service. Some land tenure laws and policies exist but have not been implemented in favour of farmer land rights. But farmers still play a significant role in national and global economies and in providing vital environmental services, though they are not paid for them. It has become increasingly important for farming to be organized as proper businesses and value-added rural enterprises, using innovations and modern technologies, including ICT to enhance sustainable agricultural value chains.
Ghana’s Labour Force (Economically active Populations) is made up of 58.1 % of 15 years plus. Ghana’s public sector employment is only 9.5% of the employed (Population and Housing Census-PHC, 2021; Ghana Statistical Service). This constitutes only about 700,000 of the Ghanaian Population of about 30.8 million, whose salary consume 60% of the national budget (Ministry of Finance Budget Statements and Records 2020-2021). The rest of employment consist of 77.1% in private informal sector and 12.4 % private formal sector. Unemployment rate among the population of 15 years and older is 13.4 percent and is higher for females (15.5%) than males (11.6%).
Among the population 15-35 years, unemployment rate is 19.7 percent, and is even much higher for young adults 15-24 years (32.8%). Meanwhile 45.5 % of unemployed 15 years + are available for work but are not seeking employment; 65.8% of these are youth 15-35 years. 100% of all first-time job seekers are youth 15-35 years and 52.5 % of all youth 15-35 years make up job seekers who have worked previously. 32.8 % of 15–24-year-olds are unemployed majority in urban areas 35% and 30% rural (Population and Housing Census-PHC, 2021; Ghana Statistical Service), underscoring the rural-urban migration that has occurred over the years due to neglect of rural areas and its main occupation agriculture over the years. There will be reversal of this trend if the potential of farming is harnessed through proper training and complete value chain approach which is needed for successful business and employment through agriculture is provided.
Agriculture provides the biggest proportion (32 %) of employment in Ghana of which ¾ of 15 years and older are engaged in skilled agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Services and sales are 26.5% and crafts and related trades is 16.1 %. However, reclassification by only three sectors, more than half (53.3%) of the employed population, 15 years and older are in the services sector, followed by agriculture (33.0%) with industry having the least (13.7%). Agriculture also provides main occupation in rural Ghana, of which self-employed without employees are ¾ (74.1%) as compared to 50.2% in urban areas (Population and Housing Census-PHC, 2021; Ghana Statistical Service). Agriculture therefore provides potential for employment yet to be harnessed, becoming the main respite for stemming youth unemployment in Ghana.
Farmers need to be organized to improve their production capacity, access to markets, and building financial mechanisms to support their small and medium size farming enterprises. In recent years many of them have tried to form grass roots associations to pull their resources together and garner support for socio economic and political emancipation. These groups are very small and lack organizational and institutional ability to harness opportunities to address the problems relating to local traditional farming in a modern day economy. COFAG recognises the existence of other farmers groups, associations, alliances and networks and their right to organize and we as an entity and cooperates on common platforms for further Networking and advocacy for farmer and rural interests. But majority of farmers are not in groups; many farmers are not organized at the local and national levels and our current coalition gives an opportunity for other farmers and local groups to belong to a wider coalition and legal status for so many groups which could not afford to register at the community level.
This coalition has come about through several consultations, contacts, meetings and engaging communications among several farmers and rural organizations since 2009, but gaining momentum in 2011, and has fostered new groups, mobilizations, mergers and alliances of several kinds and involving all manner of small holder farmers and stakeholder groups engaging one another and relevant government departments leading to registrations and legalizations. We have tried hard to accommodate different shades of opinions and interests and found common ground in several areas as enshrined in our Constitution.
23 founding farmers associations of COFAG represented 62,000 farmers, and as at September, 2018 grown to about 1,000,000+ farmers in 300 groups of farmers in villages, small towns and rural areas in all zones and regions of Ghana have come together to provide representation, leadership, capacity building, services and a voice for all small farmers groups in Ghana who believe in our mission and vision and are ready to join this coalition to continue to meet the challenges of small farmers associations and promote farmers rights and rural interests without discrimination due to social status and other affiliations.
- To enhance fair Representation, strong Networks and Alliances for Farmer and rural interest in National life.
- To provide finance and logistics for Farmers, sustainable rural development, agri- business and rural enterprises.
- To provide capacity and training opportunities for rural peoples including ICT, Research and Innovation.
- To Support legislation and International Conventions for sustainable agriculture, rural development, Climate Change, MDGs, Fair Trade and farmers rights.
- To promote and advocate for Policies, legislation, political voice and activism supporting farmer and rural interests.
- To Promote gender and special groups interests (youth, women, disabled/challenged, voiceless, non-formally educated, special needs) in sustainable agricultural value chains, rural development and Sustainable Natural resource management.
- To strengthen the capacity of small and medium rural farmers for agro-forestry and reforestation. 8. To promote access to markets and finance for small and medium size agro-forestry and reforestation.
- To promote partnerships and networking for small and medium size farmers for forestry.
- To promote advocacy for policies on land tenure, resource rights and rural forestry.
- To research for solutions on climate change on arid and semi-arid areas and rural livelihoods.
- To promote agriculture and forestry-based green enterprises, food security and poverty reduction.
- To strengthen the capacity of small and medium rural farmers capacity to acquire best practices for farming, livelihoods, agro forestry and reforestation projects. 2. To promote access to markets and build financial mechanisms to support small and medium size agro forestry and reforestation enterprises. 3. To promote partnerships and networking for small and medium size farmers to share information and exchange programmes to enhance knowledge, innovations and expertise in agriculture and forestry in rural and forest dependent communities. 4. To promote advocacy to influence policy changes relating to land tenure and resource use rights for rural and forest dependent communities. 5. To research and find sustainable solutions to meet the challenges of climate change and rural enterprises and Agri-business enhancement. 6. To promote the development of agriculture and forestry based green enterprises to engender green jobs, improve food security and poverty reduction.
PROGRAMMMES, PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES
The Mission, Vision, Goals, Core Values and Objectives are translated into programmes, projects and activities for the benefit of members, farmers, farmer groups, Agricultural producers and rural peoples and special groups, such as Organizational development and Capacity building; Advocacy for implementation of existing National and International laws and policies in favour of Farmers and rural development, including land tenure , land governance and natural resource ownership, protection and management; Implementation of financial mechanisms to enhance sustainable agricultural value chains, SDGs, Climate mitigation and resilience, rural innovations, food security corridors, creation of farmers platforms and networking for policy and legislation enactment, adoption and implementation; farmers rights to fair compensation in pricing of agricultural produce and environmental services, protection of beneficiary rights of small holder farmers and rural people to natural resources and eco-systems functions, services and green enterprises, rural enterprises, agri-business, agro-forestry, green manure and cover crop technologies, improved livelihood security and income levels; The strategic use of ICT facilities to enhance farmer and rural peoples interaction, meetings, grass root innovations and promotion of activities along the farming value chains, Market access, distribution of Agricultural inputs, storage Facilities and sustainable rural development.
Comprehensive Flagship Programme for Welfare and Development of Farmers
This Mandate provides a framework for COFAG Comprehensive Flagship Programme for Welfare and Development of Farmers with Economic, Occupational Health, Educational and Training, Investment and Financial Components, spanning 3-5 years in first cycle.
COFAG progressively initiated moves to promote coordination of Farmers in the Commonwealth, starting with extending to lead the formation of West Africa Farmers Alliance (WAFA) of Five Commonwealth West African Countries, Africa Farmers Alliance (AFA) of Commonwealth Countries of Africa and finally Commonwealth Farmers Organisation (CFO) open for membership to all Commonwealth Farmers Organisations.
COFAG is member of World Farmers Organisation (WFO) and Facilitates WFO Innovation Working Group.
COFAG is part of the 6 country Transitional Agriculture Project
Governance and Leadership
Rotating Governance System of Leadership is what COFAG is practicing in which Governance is more of training and grooming current and future leadership through Teams, mentoring, caching and rotating positions in the Team. In this regard the current Leadership Team: