Rice Farmers To Be Provided With Fertilisers

Fiifi Kwetey Minister of Agriculture (4)The government has initiated a Special Rice Project to boost rice cultivation and enhance self- sufficiency in the production of the crop in the country.

Under the project, targeted farmers in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Volta regions are being provided with fertilizer to boot production.

Also 40 metric tons of a new rice variety “CSIR-AGRA” has been supplied to farmers in the Northern Region to boost up their production capacities.

About 9,000 hectares of land is under rice cultivation in the Upper East, Upper West, Northern and Volta regions under the special rice project initiated by the government to increase rice production to meet local consumption.

The project is being supported by the Export Trade, Agriculture and Industrial Development Fund.

Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhasaan, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in Charge of Crops, in an interview with the Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday, acknowledged funding challenges that had made it impossible to supply fertilizer to the entire farming population, hence the targeted approach.

He said the government was making frantic efforts to settle its indebtedness with the fertilizer companies to restore supply to farmers.

Over the past six years, the government had been supplying fertilizer under the fertilizer subsidy programme to support farmers to increase crop production, but the supply for the 2014 crop season has been delayed because the government owes the fertilizer companies.

This has created anxiety among farmers and fuelled speculation of possible food insecurity this year.

Dr Alhassan said “we have not been able to deliver the full completement of fertilizer to the farming population due to funding challenges we have supplied some quantities targeting small and medium scale farmers in the Upper East, Upper West, Northern and Volta regions to boost rice production.”

He said the initiative would continue during the dry season under irrigation schemes until the country achieves rice self- sufficiency, adding that the demand for local rice had improved from 30 per cent in 2008 to 60 per cent currently.

The Deputy Minister said whereas the per capita consumption of food crops like cassava, cocoyam, plantain, yam and maize had stabilized, that of rice continued to increase more than what was locally produced.

Nonetheless, the Deputy Minister said the country had the potential and resources to mobilise to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production, adding that the farmers would respond appropriately to meet local demand for rice.

“Our plea is that, Ghanaians will respond to the government’s call for us to appreciate and consume what we grow in the country,” he said adding “any rice consumer knows that rice produced in the country is fresher and more nutritious, especially the brown rice, than what is imported into the country”.

He said the theme for this year’s National Farmer’s Day is “Eat what we grow,” intended to encourage local consumption to help reduce the huge foreign exchange used for imports.

As a routine exercise Dr Alhassan said a team of experts were in the field assessing the crop season to see how the forecast would be in crop production.

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman  

 

 

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