1.0 Introduction Per the outlined 2 months action plan of the ProFarms Gateway project, within April 2022, two strategic actions are currently ongoing and taking their trajectory. Firstly, the landscape designing and planting. The designing phase which holistically comprises the felling of the dead, diseased infested and dispersed orange trees has since witnessed a tremendous technical input given its current architecture. However, despite the challenges, the activity has since generated over 200 MT of wood products, which has been beneficial to over 15 households especially female-headed households across the surrounding project communities. This support has been welcomed by the entire Essiase and other surrounding communities across the Ashanti-Bekwai district. The siting of the ProFarms Gateway Project at Essiase has been a blessing rather than a curse as it continues to offer temporal job opportunities to community members, particularly women. Since the commencement of the project, over 8 women have been trained in line planting using ropes, of which hitherto, lack the skills in line or rope planting. Table 1, gives details about the support from the ProFarms Gateway project to farmers or community members.
1.1 Gender & employment:
Indeed, the aforementioned gender support is in response to ProFarms gateway's earlier socio-economic and environmental impact assessment findings which underscored the need to address the gender imbalance in the surrounding communities across the Kokofu- Essiase enclave. The findings from the study showed that the role played by women in the different dimensions of sustainable development in the surrounding communities is insignificant. This steam from the fact that the Ashanti kingdom is more male-dominated. Therefore, women's involvement in developmental and economic driven activities is usually minimal. As a result, the utilization of women's labor in the economic development of Bekwai and the surrounding Ashanti Kingdom is relegated to the background. It is against the backdrop that the ProFarms Gateway project has instituted measures to bridge the gap. Women's access to resources is equally minimal. Access to land is a challenge to migrant women as opposed to indigenes. This finding reflects the political sphere of certain villages in the country, where, to a large extent, most jobs are reserved for men, men are paid more than women, and women are less involved in the decision-making process. Women are also limited in Essiase and Kokofu villages and contribute little to the social development of the Bekwai region as a whole, as men occupy the stage in most interactions. Given the current traditional dichotomy between men's and women's access to opportunities, the ProFarms Gateway project sees it as a challenge that needs critical assessment and progressive resolution. Therefore, all the support for women is geared towards helping to empower them to be independent. The findings of the socio-economic and environmental impact assessment further revealed that Women's rights are not adequately respected and as a result, they are mostly mishandled and not allowed to participate in matters of social development. Even though globally, environmental issues are of great concern to women, their participation in its management has been limited to men. Therefore, the ProFarms Gateway project feels that unless women empowerment and gender equality are achieved, the local economy including the environment cannot be sustained. Hence, the need for gender-sensitive actions that will bridge the gap to make women more relevant among the population of Essiase-Kokofu and surrounding communities.
Ongoing planting exercise and capacity building skills in role planting
Figure 2:ProFarm Gateway Project support: Gender distribution chart
Women accessing free firewood to serve their household needs
The planting exercise will continue throughout April. This will be followed by some sensitization work on mushroom production and value addition. ProFarms Gateway Project will seize the opportunity in May 2022 to compile advocacy sensitization on the aforementioned crop to further empower women nutritionally, technologically and economically.