PThe Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), is partnering the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), to help rice farmers to scale up the production of quality and tasty local rice in the country.
This is under the “Sustainable Development of Rain-fed Lowland Rice Production phase II” project, being implemented by the two partners, in the Ashanti and the Northern Regions of Ghana.
The project, which started in 2016, is expected to end in 2021.
Ms Yaa Pokua, Project Schedule Officer, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview in Kumasi that, many more farmers in the 20 participating districts in Ashanti Region, were enrolled onto the project to help boost rice production in the Region.
She said through appropriate field demonstrations and the application of modern technologies in paddy fields, each of the farmers was now producing 2.9 tons per hectare on the average, as against less than two tons before the implementation of the project.
Ms Pokua said rice had become one of the most important food staples in many homes in Ghana, and its consumption per-capita had more than doubled over the last decade as a result of population growth, urbanisation and change in consumer habits.
Ghana, she said, depended largely on imported rice to make up the deficit in domestic rice production and supply.
That was why the Ministry with the support of JICA decided to support local rice farmers to increase production to help close the import gap and ensure food security.
Ms Pokua said there was ready market for the local rice, hence the need to encourage farmers to invest, and produce more to meet the local demand, while helping to create employment, especially for the youth.
She said only five districts were targeted in the Ashanti Region in the first phase of the project, which started in 2009 and ended in 2016.
However, the success stories and the keen interest shown by the farmers encouraged the partners to increase the districts to 20 in the second phase to rope in more farmers.
Ms Pokua said the government, through the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme, had been supporting the rice farmers with subsidised inputs, seeds and fertilisers to help increase output.
Ms Kyoko Akasaka, an Extension Officer from JICA, said the Japanese government was providing technical assistance to the farmers to ensure the successful implementation of the project. GNA