Strategic partnership needed to improve rice sector-- Quaittoo

July 17, 2017
Source: Ekow Essabra-Mensah l thebftonline l Ghana
Strategic partnership needed to improve rice sector-- Quaittoo

A Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr. William Agyapong Quaittoo has called for strategic partners, investors, financial institutions, input suppliers, and farmers to change the paradigm in the rice sector to improve productivity and food security.

 

“We need access to the latest production technologies and hybrid seeds to reduce imports and leverage local investments because consumption per capita is expected to climb to 63kg. We call on all strategic partners, investors, financial institutions, input suppliers, and farmers to change the paradigm in the rice sector to improve productivity and food security,” he said.

 

Rice has become an important food staple; however the country import 680,000 metric tonnes or 66% of total consumption and that amount to approximately US$300 million, according to an official of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Minister Quaittoo made this known in Accra at a three-day West Africa Fertilizer and Agribusiness Conference 2017, which deliberated on strategies and shared experiences expected to result in win-win solutions for the private sector, the public sector and farmers throughout ECOWAS and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Speaking under the theme: ‘Boosting fertilizer trade through partnerships, investment and innovation,” Mr. Quaittoo explained that agriculture and the less-promoted agribusiness have the potential to contribute more to the country’s economy, “if we can harness public private partnership (PPPs).

 

“I therefore call on the private sector to partner with us in developing and releasing new and improved technologies that will transform livelihoods while improving our agriculture productivity.

 

“Same is needed in the Financial Sector. We encourage the bankers from Barclays, Societe Generale, and others to deploy new technologies and lending alternatives to facilitate access to capital in the agribusiness value chain,” he stated.

 

He stated that government is convinced that investing in the input sector such as the fertilizer, seeds and agribusiness, developing the capacity of importers, distributors, and young farmers will create significant jobs adding that fertilizer, improved seeds, mechanization, water management and extension services are pivotal for agriculture productivity, food security, quality control, access to finance, job creation and value addition.

 

He indicated that government is worried about the lure of the illegal gold mining or "galamsey".

“Yes Ghana is the second major gold producer in Africa but the illegal mining remains a blot in our efforts to ensure legal mining operations that boost our economy.

 

To this end, he noted that, “galamsey has affected the livelihoods of our youth, not to mention destroyed our environment. We are exploring how we can attract the youth to agriculture and agribusiness sector so they can escape from the snare of this illegal practice.”

 

Agribusiness – which the World Bank estimates to be a US$1 trillion sector in the next 13 years - is an alternative to illegal gold mining in the country and “we are in support of agribusiness development,” he said.

 

He affirmed government’s plans of positioning the country to improve investment in research and development to ensure that the economy remain competitive to global changes by innovating and harnessing new knowledge to develop.

 

“Innovation in the fertilizer and seeds industry means our farmers can access improved inputs to boost their productivity.

 

“Ghana spends less than 1 percent of its GDP on Science Research and Innovation contrary to the agreement by African Heads of State to increase investment in research and development to realize the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) objectives.  

 

On infrastructure, Mr. Quaittoo explained that the country has paid out ambitious plans to invest in infrastructure which is key in the ease of business and especially so for the fertilizer industry to be able to ship its products across the continent and right to the farmers’ door.

 

Available data by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), states that Ghana needs to grow its infrastructure and capital project financing by eight per cent every year to reach US$12 billion in new financing for the next 10 years to 2025.

 

Government to this end, is looking forward to the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank investing in the rail infrastructure to move fertilizer and other commodities from Tema port to inland port.

 

The Port of Tema which is being expanded is the country’s primary maritime freight handling centre and it processes 85% of Ghana’s seaborne freight. Developing this port will increase capacity and boost trade in the region.

“We believe business goes to those with the right business policies. Our government’s Vision 2020 captures well our aspirations to accelerated economic growth and a better life for all Ghanaians by reducing poverty through private investment, rapid and aggressive industrialization, and direct and aggressive poverty-alleviation efforts.

 

“Vision 2020 is a policy agenda on private sector growth and aggressive public spending on social services, infrastructure and industrialisation. The vision states that Ghana’s goals of reaching high-income economy status and newly industrialized country status will be easily realised between 2020 and 2039,” Mr. Quaittoo remarked.