Various stakeholders in the rice value chain on Monday met at a stakeholders’ forum on rice production at Asutuare in the Shai Osudoku District of the Greater Accra Region under the AGRA-Ghana rice project to reiterate their commitment to end rice importation by 2032.
The project, a collaboration between the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation, Intervalle, GRIB and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and hosted by the Kpong Irrigation Scheme, afforded stakeholders the opportunity to discuss strategies on how to achieve the set target to guard against the practice.
The three-year project is dubbed public-private partnership for competitive and inclusive rice value chain development: planting for Food and Jobs - Rice Chapter.
Vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agric and Cocoa Affairs and MP for Twifo Atti Morkwa, Abraham Dwuma Odoom in explaining the concept of the AGRA-Ghana rice project said Ghana had all it takes to achieve its set target of stopping rice importation.
He said the commitment to stop rice importation by Ghana motivated the assembling of various stakeholders including government to the forum to deliberate on strategies to achieve this target. “It’s all about Ghana must not import rice so we brought all stakeholders together including government and government says that it intends to bring the private sector into participation and implementation,” Mr. Dwuma asserted.
He added that the private sector being partners are interacting among themselves to identify challenges affecting the sector from the rice farmer to the miller, a development which is helping the private sector to remove challenges.
Lots of farmers plant grain with no maximum yield. To curb this shortfall, foundation seeds are being cultivated to produce certified seeds which in turn produce seeds for paddy rice which in turn produces higher and uniformed yields.
“This system will improve yield improve from 1.5 mt to 6 mt to 8 mt to 10 metric tonnes per hector,” said the Vice chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agric and Cocoa Affairs.
He added that farmers can grow two or three crops in a year under the project which is well coordinated under irrigation, adding that government must fulfill its responsibility to produce water since the project has the responsibility to reduce poverty.
The core objective of the project is to put Ghana out of rice importation owing largely to favourable factors including resources, land, water, sunshine, labour and farmers who are ready to appreciate it to go into it because there is money in it.
Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority, Ing Wilson Darkwah said the digitization of the Kpong Irrigation Scheme will go a long way in boosting the operations of the scheme including the running of an efficient billing system.
“The digital transformation of KIS will present a unique opportunity for sustainable operation and management of the scheme. A modernized system using digital flow meters to measure water delivered to each secondary or lateral canal will afford a more transparent billing system and thus make irrigation service charges collection easier to do,” he said.
He was also confident that the use of soil moisture meters (tensiometers) would lead to a more economic use of water and less wastage of the resource which is also needed to produce hydro water.
The irrigation director also cited various uses of ICT in modern agriculture including its use in the registration and database of farmers who received subsidized inputs as well as in another irrigation scheme in Dawhenya as well as its use in making water and fertilizers available in precise doses to vegetables produced in greenhouses.
To make the KIS a center of quality rice production however, Ing Wilson Darkwah called for adequate production and supply of uncontaminated seed for rice brands that are acceptable on the Ghanaian market, access to quality rice processing machines that are able to remove dirt and stones from the rice, the use of mechanical dryers, access to inputs and agricultural equipment, packaging and access to markets, etc, adding that this if done, could result in the increment of cropping intensities.
Deputy Minister of agric in charge of Horticulture, George Oduro on his part, reiterated government's determination to ensure that Ghana does not import rice by the year 2032.
District Chief Executive for Shai Osudoku, Daniel Akuffo in his keynote address said the Public Private Partnership competitive and inclusive rice value chain project is being monitored and coordinated at the district agric directorate.
The assembly chief who expressed commitment to sustaining the gains made in rice production in the district observed that the PPP rice consortium is addressing most of the gaps in rice production from inputs to marketing, adding that he was doing everything within his position as head of local government in the district to engage financial institutions to support farmers.
Mr. Akuffo noted that rice remains one of the assembly’s choices under the 1D1F programme which has seen the private sector responding favourably with the establishment of mechanization and milling centers in the district. According to him, the assembly is seeking for support to set up the rice information center to sustain these investments.
He said the assembly is assuring that government’s directive that agencies like buffer stock, school feeding and the free SHS all buy local rice was adhered to, adding that information channels have also been established between the assembly and Farmer Based Organizations using ICT platforms to share various information.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in 2018 entered into a 2.5 million euro Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement, dubbed, Ghana Rice Initiative,’ to boost rice production in the country.
A total of 200,000 farmers from five regions namely, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Volta, Central and Northern, have been targeted under the three-year project.
They are to be provided with certified seeds at subsidized rates and technical and infrastructural support to boost the production of rice.
The team as part of the activities on the day also visited the strongman foods and farms limited at Asutuare.
Present at the event were former Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalagn, AGRA president, Dr. Agnes Matilda Kalibata, members of the Shai Osudoku Traditional Council, FBOs among others.