The Japanese government has presented agricultural machinery worth GH¢9.7 million to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) under the grant assistance programme for underprivileged farmers to increase the country’s rice production.
The machinery, comprising 77 agricultural tractors with matching implements, 49 power tillers, 20 rice threshers, 11 rice reapers and six rice mills, are expected to be distributed to farmers on hire purchase.
Speaking at a handing over ceremony yesterday in Accra, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Japanese Embassy in Ghana, Mr Shigeru Umetsu, said his government decided to provide assistance to local rice producers, due to the country’s deficit in rice production.
He said Japan, a rice consuming country, had been able to increase production through techniques and equipment to modernise the production of rice, and that these machinery would help the local rice farmers to employ best and modern methods of farming.
“As we are aware, modernisation of agriculture is key to achieving poverty reduction and accelerating growth in Ghana, especially, among the wide variety of agricultural production in the country, rice required urgent attention to modernise its production as illustrated in Ghana’s Shared Growth and Development Agenda II,” he said.
Mr Umetsu said that strengthening the domestic rice production and its distribution system was an urgent and critical issue to respond to food security and that the government of Japan would continue to provide assistance to revamp the agricultural sector.
“The Government of Japan regards the agriculture sector as a priority in our cooperation with Ghana and would continue to provide training programmes to local farmers as well as supporting them with tools and machinery,” he said.
The sector minister, Mr Fifi Kwetey, receiving the machinery, expressed government’s gratitude to the Japanese government for the tremendous support to farmers noting that such support would improve the knowledge of indigenous farmers to increase food production.
He said that rice production had become an area where the government continued to channel revenue to address the demands of the local consumers and that between 2006 and 2008 alone, an average of 409,000 metric tons of rice worth US168 million was imported into the country to compensate the deficits between local production and consumption.
Mr Kwetey noted that due to the deficits in local production, the government policy strategy captured in MOFA Sector Development Policy ll and the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan 2011-2015, sought to promote rice production to address food security and poverty reduction.
By Bernard Benghan & Mavis Maneno