The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has initiated a programme aimed at assessing the logistical needs of selected districts in the Ashanti, and Bono and Ahafo Regions to improve rice production.
Addressing a forum attended by Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCE) and Agriculture Directors, the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Simon Osei-Mensah, said the project is geared towards increasing food productivity thereby ensuring food security for the country and reduced import bills to the barest minimum.
To this end, the Minister said that the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) policy is to address the declining growth of Ghana’s agricultural sector. Over the years, he noted that, Ghana had spent huge sums of monies on the importation of rice and this had negatively affected the national currency.
He therefore urged all MMDCEs to give every support to their Agricultural Development Units to make the special rice program successful.
The Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, Mr. Collins Ntim, for his part expressed satisfaction with the yields recorded for the 2018 PFJ season. He noted that, the sector exceeded the set target in the 2018 PFJ season and was optimistic that the 2019 season would be a better one.
“Programs and policies relating to agriculture emanate from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture but are implemented at different levels. A critical decision has therefore been taken that all programmes should be given and entrusted into the hands of MMDCE’s with their regional and district directors of Agriculture,” he said.
Mr Ntim said Ghana spends a lot on rice importation annually. Meanwhile, the country has the potential to produce enough of the crop locally to feed its people.
So as part of strategies to create jobs and reduce importation of rice, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, are initiating the special rice programme for 122 selected districts across the country. The programme hopes to cover about 233,000 hectares and expected to produce 600,000 tons of rice.
For the project to be successful, he said, basic logistics are needed and government is ready to supply all. “This project is to enable the government achieve its sub-sector goal of becoming self-sufficient in rice production and to improve the livelihoods of farmers by 2020.”
The Director of Crop Services, Mr. Seth Akoto, also explained that the Soil Research Institute (SRI) of Center for Scientific and Industrial Research together with a consortium of scientists were tasked to come up with crop specific fertilizer recommendations.
The SRI as a lead institution in collaborating with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and with support from AGRA had been able to develop specific fertilizer recommendations for maize, sorghum, rice, soya bean, cassava and vegetables for the various Agro-ecological zones of the country.
The MoFA will therefore vigorously promote the use of the crop specific fertilizer recommendations under the 2019 campaign to increase crop yield.
“It is expected that farmers, input distributors and all stakeholders will play their roles under the campaign effectively to make sure that the farm inputs government is paying so much for are put to good use for the benefit of Ghanaians and not smuggled out to neighbouring countries,” Mr. Akoto said.