In The Hillsides of Ghana, Peace Baku Uses the Local Rice Crop to Empower Women
Meet Peace Baku, chief executive officer of ENEDAS Farms, an organic red rice producing company located in the hillsides of the Volta region of Ghana, an area of high altitude known for this crop.
Founded in 2004, ENEDAS Farms distributes and markets the MOUNTAIN Organic Unpolished brand, which sells brown rice in addition to the other rice flour-based products such as infant formula and spiced and roasted rice flour. Working cooperatively with out-growers from the Avatime Women’s Association, ENEDAS Farms has been able to generate sales in excess of $650,000 annually and expand to markets not only throughout their native Ghana but into retailers throughout the United Kingdom and the United States.
Recently, I had a chance to meet Baku in her native Ghana, who was more than happy to share how her work through ENEDAS Farms has helped to improve the economic status of women growers of the Avatime region.
Madame Noire: I understand that Enedas Farms is mostly run by a cooperative of women farmers. Why was it important to support these women growers?
Peace Baku: Being an assembly member of the local governance system, Enedas Farms was registered to empower the women who are already rice farmers to increase their acreages to meet the high demand. Enedas Farms then buys the rice from these out-growers for packaging and marketing. It is very important to support these women because some of them are the breadwinners of the family. This farming work is their main occupation.
MN: Where is this cooperative located? Tell me about the name Enedas.
PB: The cooperative is located in Vane-Avatime in Volta region.
ENEDAS is the name for a maternal aunt in the local dialect and this name was given to me because I pay [the] school and medical expenses of the women and their dependents, solve social problems and provide them with clothing. I am everybody’s aunt. Enedas is my company to honor the women.
MN: How many women are involved in the cooperative and what kind of impact financially has it made in their lives?
PB: There are 150 members, 50 in rice growing and the rest are involved in cassava, Irish apples, plantain, groundnuts, fruits like banana and pear, and maize production. There has been great impact in their lives. Some have houses built from the profit made and some can now pay for their kids’ education.
MN: Why red rice? Is there some significance or is this purely marketing?
PB: Red rice is naturally red unpolished variety and is the traditional meal for the people of Avatime during birth, marriage ceremonies, funerals and festivals. The red color on the rice is actually the fiber, and its nutritional value is twice and sometimes even four times richer than that of the white rice. It has by-products like baby food, or infant formula, spiced rice flour for porridge, pudding, [and] roasted rice flour. We also bake bread and cakes from the raw rice flour. We celebrate an annual rice (AMU) Festival in November.
MN: How did you get involved with cooperative?
PB: My love for advocacy for women’s rights, to live dignified lives through their labor, got me involved to help those who want to earn a living working with their hands. To get financial help,they have to belong to groups or cooperatives. And my women were given microfinance support on two occasions by the local rural bank. This has since been paid off successfully. I am a rice grower. Leadership by example: I have the largest farm of 15 acres.
MN: What does the future hold for ENEDAS Farms?
PB: The future is very demanding for export and this means an increase in finances to produce more rice, even for the local market since this rice is a health food and is known worldwide as such. I wish to expand into new markets by His grace.
Currently, ENEDAS does not have a website, however the company can be reached by email at email@example.com.