At a time when the farming and the agricultural profession is completely seen as a thing of the past and reserved for those living at the country side, Portia Mensah-Bonsu has proved doubters wrong and defied all odds as she never took her passion for Agriculture for granted. Her efforts have been paid off as she was recently crowned as the first runner up of the coveted Miss Agriculture Ghana, 2019. The Miss Agriculture initiative is an annual competition organized for young and vibrant women between the ages of 18 and 35 to create jobs and encourage women participation in agriculture. As an individual with a strong affinity for agriculture, it is not surprising Portia took this as an opportunity to advance her career in the field of agriculture. Out of 14 young women, Portia fought hard to the Grand Finale and emerged as the first runner up of the competition. At a tender age, Portia had developed a strong love for Agriculture and as an adventurous person, she always aspired to take a different step from what others were taking. Agriculture therefore came as a perfect present for her especially when the participation of the youth in agriculture in our part of the world is nothing to write home about. After a number of years of hard work and experience in the Cocoa Industry, Portia had come to the realization that seasonal unemployment was a pain in the neck for most cocoa farmers as they were rendered idle and unemployed when the cash crop is out of season. In an attempt to help tackle this burgeoning problem, Portia embarked on an innovative project to help farmers use the waste product(husk) of cocoa to produce soaps in order to help them secure a second source of income during the off-season. This audacious move by Portia did not go unnoticed as she was ultimately crowned the first runner up of the just ended Miss Agriculture 2019. As part of celebrating this wonderful young lady, Change Agent Media interviewed her to share her success story. This, we believe would ginger up the youth especially young ladies to change their perception about agriculture and seeing it as a potential revenue for creating wealth for the masses as well as helping in the socio-economic development of the country. Stay back and enjoy an intriguing interview with this adventurous young lady
Can you give us a quick personal background?
Answer: I am Portia Mensah-Bonsu. I’m the first of 4 girls. We were raised by a single dad but God brought an angel by name Madam Charlotte Nortey who took us as her own, out of compassion and treated us her own. God bless her
Tell us a bit about your education
Answer: I started Primary school in Kumasi Pax International School now Pax Pahosant. Then proceeded to Konongo Odumase Senior High and offered Agricultural Science. Thereafter, I attended Kwadaso College of Agriculture and advanced in the science of Agric.
Among all the fields, why you did decide to go into agriculture and What motivated you to enter the Miss Agriculture contest?
Answer: Mmm. I have always loved agriculture. I’d say from infancy. I’m someone who loves to shine. Why do I say that? I don’t like to do what everyone does, I remember very well, after SHS I was under pressure to divert from agriculture. A lot of people said I had nice grades and I didn’t deserve to do Agriculture because I will have no future with it in our country. However, my dad supported me to go ahead and pursue Agriculture because he believed in me and said I wasn’t like any other person. What motivated me to apply for miss agriculture was their theme. It was aimed at getting young women like myself to develop interest in agriculture to aid in achieving food security.
How did you prepare for this competition?
Answer: It was an unending preparation which included learning, drafting proposal on a sustainable project and grooming.
What would you say was the biggest problem you faced in the course of the competition?
Answer: My biggest problem was support. Except for a few people and Ecom Ghana, not so many were willing to invest especially because it was agriculture related and not like other pageantries.
What has this competition taught you personally in life?
Answer: Lessons I learnt from this competition is not to depend on anyone, to be consistent and not to give up on anything.
What were your secrets to going far in the competition?
Answer: Secrets to going far in the competition first of all was God, and then careful preparation and the support from loved ones and Ecom Ghana.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Answer: My greatest inspiration is from my sisters. Because of them, I have strived to be a better woman. Because they look up to me as a role model and thanks to God. I haven’t and won’t fail.
Tell us one advise from your parents which has kept you going in life?
Answer: One advice I have always lived by is not to depend on any person and not to envy others.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Answer: I see myself doing great things and making major impact in the field of Agriculture both in our country and worldwide.
Working with farmers for sometime now, what has been the key challenges?
Answer: Working with farmers comes with a lot of challenges but one major challenge is that they see me as a woman and a young person. They think you know nothing until what you teach has yielded results for others.
Youth of today, would want to be employed by government, what advice do you have for the youth in the quest to address unemployment in the country?
Answer: I would want the youth to know that agriculture in these times is completely different from the past. There have been massive advancements in technology and as such there are better and bigger prospects for Agriculture. Also they should regard agriculture as a business and not dirty job or punishment.
Share with us some of the opportunities in the agriculture sector?
Answer: Opportunities in Agriculture are numerous. There are a lot of policies which have been rolled out to support the youth in agriculture. Access to funds, planting materials and even access to lands has been made easier. Getting yourself involved in agriculture is a way to being your own boss.
How would you handle the responsibility of being 1st runner up of Miss Agriculture?
Answer: I would handle my responsibilities by embarking on realistic projects, and sharing knowledge in agriculture especially to young girls to develop their interests.
If you were given the opportunity, what would you do to improve agriculture in the country?
Answer: If I had my way to improve agriculture in this country I’d prioritize women and make available access to funds, input, extension and other materials and information because they constitute the majority in the agricultural labor force.
If you had one message to the world, what would it be?
Answer: My message to the world is to overlook the overalls and take up agriculture as any other career because agriculture is life itself.
By: Samuel Odoom
Editor: Roland Annor Botchway