CRI-CSIR sign MoU to boost rice production

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture

Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Crop Research Institute of Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CRI-CSIR) and Korea-Africa Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (KOPIA) to boost rice production in Ghana.

The three-year agreement, estimated at 140,000 US dollars would see the two countries supply certified seeds for the take off of the project.

The CSIR would provide 30,000 US dollars and certified seeds, while the South Korean organisation provides Asian and Korean certified seeds as well as financial and technical support for cross-breeding.

Speaking to the Ghanaian Times here on Monday, after the signing ceremony, Dr Gyoung-Rae of KOPIA noted that the project would ensure the cultivation of  2,000 hectares of rice farms in three selected regions, namely, the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and Volta, adding that it  would be extended to other regions later.

He said the Government of South Korea was determined to support Ghana to stop the importation of rice.

Currently, Ghana produces about 687,686 metric tons of rice; about 40 per cent of the country’s requirement. Ghana also imported $1.2 billion dollars of rice annually to address the deficit.

The Director of KOPIA said: “It is our aim to ensure that Ghana’s importation of rice will be a thing of the past, and if possible, be a leader in rice exportation in Africa.”

Dr Gyoung-Rae said 6,000 metric tons of rice would be produced each year under the MoU, stressing “my dream is to ensure that Ghana stops rice importation by 10 years’ time, and I mean it”.

Dr Kofi Dartey, a rice bleeder with the CRI-CSIR  and member of the project said the Institute would provide 80 tons of certified seeds to assist seed growers “and in view of this, we are starting with large scale commercial farmers with 10 hectare farm lands.”

He, however, pointed out that any farmer with farm land below 10 hectares would also be assisted with certified seeds, and urged rice farmers to collaborate with the CRI- CSIR, saying “our aim is to get enough commercial farmers to commercialise it.”

Dr Dartey indicated that “if we are to produce five tons of breeder seeds, we will produce it in only one season, but our aim is the 80 tons foundation seeds for the 2000 hectares on farmers’ fields and “as soon as the varieties are certified the planting for food and jobs project can link up with the project and take it up”.

The Director of CSIR-CRI, Dr Stella Ama Ennin, commended the South Korean government for providing financial and technical support to boost rice production in Ghana.

She noted that most rice varieties from lowlands do not thrive on inland valleys “but with this project, rice can be grown in uplands where maize and other plants can be grown, and this will enable us to expand tremendously its production in the country.”

FROM KINGSLEY E. HOPE, FUMESUA

 

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