Source: Daily Graphic Ghana - Ghana is adopting a number of strategies to whip up interest in its local rice production in order to meet the high demand of the product.

The strategies include the promotion of three varieties of rice, which are comparable in terms of quality with the imported ones.
They are the ‘Agra’ rice being championed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), ‘Togo Marshall’ and ‘Jasimai 85’.

An agriculture officer of the Directorate of the Crop Services Division of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Mr Rowland Addo, who announced this, said the country was embarking on an annual increase of 20 per cent rice production, enhancing the quality of the rice produced locally and also increasing farmers’ access to credit facilities.

Mr Addo was delivering a country report on the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) at the Sixth General Meeting of the CARD in Accra.

It brought together all the 23 member countries of CARD and relevant partners and institutions to review the progress made under the CARD initiative since the fifth CARD General Meeting held in Senegal in 2013 and to discuss the way forward towards the end of the initiative in 2018 and beyond.

Mr Addo said currently the country produced 400,000 metric tonnes of rice, which fell short of the local consumption by 300,000 metric tonnes. National rice consumption stands at 700,000 metric tonnes a year.

He said last year, the country spent $290 million importing 414,000 metric tonnes of rice to meet local consumption needs.

The Head of Tree & Industrial Crops of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr Seth Osei-Akoto, said issues about rice as a food security and economic development commodity were “something that affects us as a continent and Ghana as a country”.

He said, for instance, that Ghana had put in place a number of measures to ensure that the gap between demand and supply for rice was bridged.

“We have braced ourselves with the support of our partners to uncover all practical innovations to generate the needed increments in production/productivity and to close the gap between our demand and supply,” he said.

He explained that the anticipated result of the CARD initiative was to propel participating countries to close the demand and supply gap, contribute to food security and reduce poverty on the continent.

Mr Osei-Akoto said besides the CARD initiative, the country had adopted other projects and initiatives that had contributed to the current 53 per cent self-sufficiency and said they included the Rice Sector Support Project, the Rice Seed Scaling Project and the West Africa Seed Programme.

The Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Kaoru Yoshimura, explained that CARD was in a partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), AGRA and other partners with the aim to double rice production in Africa by 2018.

He said JICA was happy with its pilot project with the MoFA and announced that from next year, it was going to expand the project to cover more areas.
 


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