Ghana to reduce rice importation by 30% by 2005
From Patrick Apullah, GNA Special Correspondent Dakar
Dakar, Feb. 27, GNA - The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) is adopting strategies to increase local rice production in order to reduce importation by 30 per cent by 2005.
To ensure that there is ready market for local rice all educational institutions, hospitals, Prison Service, Ghana Armed Forces and other governmental and quasi-government organisation would be expected to use local rice.
Mr Isaac Jackson, Deputy Director of the Crop Directorate of MOFA said this when he presented a paper on the seed industry in Ghana during the second annual general meeting of the West Africa Seed Network (WASNET) in Dakar.
The three-day meeting, which was organised by GTZ, had representatives from Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Benin. The meeting was to find ways of promoting and improving seeds and planting materials in the West Africa Sub-Region and how best to sustain the programme.
Mr Jackson said taskforce had been formed to find strategies for improving the rice industry.
He said credit facilities had been made available to farmers; irrigation facilities were also being rehabilitated to revamp their economic utilisations while other techniques like bonding were being enhanced.
Mr Jackson said even though seed production was very low efforts were being made to improve on it so as to compete with the other countries.
The Agriculture Minister of Senegal, Mr Omar Top in a speech read for him to open the meeting, observed that a vibrant and efficient seed system in West African countries was a pivotal ingredient to increasing both crop production and productivity that would lead to the reduction of poverty and food insecurity in the Sub-Region.
He said a reliable seed production and distribution system should be put in place to make it easy for farming communities and other stakeholders to have access to improve high yielding seeds.
Mr Top expressed regret that in spite of the presence of improved farming system in many countries, farmers were still handicapped by the lack of timely and sufficient access to seeds and other key inputs.
"Farmers, therefore, continue to struggle with persistently lower yields that are far below the potential that they could otherwise reap". Mr Top said policy makers were looking forward to practitioners in the seed industry to come out with workable ideas that would help shape good agriculture policies. Ghana has been selected to host the third meeting to be held in 2006.
Mr Patrick Apullah from Ghana was elected to serve on Steering Committee.