A $27 million dollar rice development project has been launched in Accra to boost rice production and aid Ghana’s quest to achieving national food security.
Dubbed, ‘Water-Energy-Food Nexus Programme (WEFP) for Better Lives for Rural Development in Ghana,’ it is being funded by the government of Korea.
The project seeks to develop 100 hectares of mechanised and irrigated farmland with the goal of producing more than 1,200 tons of quality rice seeds annually.
It is being implemented over the next five years by Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in partnership with the Korea Programme for International Cooperation in Agriculture (KOPIA) Ghana Centre.
Launching the project on Friday, the Korean Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Lim Jung-Taek noted that, high-yield rice varieties and agricultural mechanisation were crucial steps in boosting rice production and achieving greater self-sufficiency in the country.
In view of that, he said KOPIA Ghana Office and the CSIR have together developed six high-yield rice varieties and conducted preliminary research in preparation for the implementation of the project.
The quality rice seeds to be developed through the project, he said, would be distributed to over 12,000 farmers across the country free of charge.
Already, Mr Jung-Taek said that the KOPIA Ghana Office had established a rice seed warehouse in Dawhenya with a storage capacity of 78,000 bags of rice seeds to store the good-quality rice seeds for farmers.
“This would also help address the rice seeds shortage problem in Ghana, where less than half of its needs are currently met, and increase rice productivity from three tons per hectare to four tons per hectare.
It is my firm belief that this project would not only help address Ghana’s rice shortage challenge but also significantly increase its self-sufficiency in rice production, contributing to the Planting for Food and Jobs Initiative,” he added.
The Ambassador said, Korea places a high priority in advancing the agricultural sector in Ghana in cooperation with the Ghanaian authorities adding that the WEFP-Ghana Project would serve as a catalyst for achieving food security in Ghana.
On his part, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Bryan Acheampong, said, Ghana had rolled out a rice seed tracking system to trace the origin of newly developed varieties of rice seeds to reduce seed adulteration and influx of fake ones.
He noted that, the move was part of initiatives to improve the rice seed value chain and enable efficient rice seed regulation and quality assurance for certifying agency.
Additionally, he said, the Ministry was building the capacity of seed certification officers and other major stakeholders to ensure quality control of seeds during production, multiplication, conditioning and distribution and also towards maintaining a desired quality for seed production.
Mr Acheampong said the Ministry was also focused on the provision of improved seed storage facilities such as warehouses and cold rooms as well as marketing and distribution channels.
This, he noted, were geared towards slow pace of dissemination and adoption of new varieties despite a fair-paced variety development and release system, unstructured markets, inadequate cold stores for seed storage, weak seed industry data and inadequate knowledge and skills among the seed value chain actors.
He stated that, certified quality seed was a pre-requisite to any successful agriculture venture and constitutes a major pathway for the achievement of national food security.
In this regard, Mr Acheampong said, the Ministry through its regulatory body, Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD), had supported production of certified seeds and improved planting materials for both staple and industrial crops.
He explained that, this had resulted in farmers adapting to the use of certified seeds in rice production compared to using farmer saved seeds as well as the distribution and marketing of certified materials approved by the Certifying Authority by input suppliers in the rice value chain.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS
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