–assures strategic support to rice produces
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta, has stated that the government is resolute and determined to turn around the country’s fortunes in the staple crop sector, especially rice and change by reversal into a net exporter of rice within the next three years to cut down on the huge foreign exchange spent annually on rice imports.
According to him, it is criminal for the country to continue to import rice for millions of dollars annually when blessed with vast arable land, water, and favourable weather condition for farming, hence the government through ministerial collaborations and partnerships with the private sector would leverage the technical expertise of the Thailand rice industry to deliver this ambitious target.
He added that strategic measures are being put in place as part of the Ghana Cares Obaatan-pa programme to support rice producers and all the other value chain players to scale up to be sustainable.
“The Obaatan-pa identifies agriculture as one of the critical sectors to revitalize and transform the economy. This aim is to ensure rapid competitive import substitution, support to commercial farming, increased food security, and the supply of raw materials for agro-processing industries for value-addition, job creation, exports, and industrialization.
US$2 billion worth of rice importation is not only unsustainable but criminal, so we need to support the private sector to produce more and put a stop to this criminal practice. We have seen an increase in hectares cultivated for rice, tonnes produced per hectare, and a marginal increase of 63 percent in milled rice since 2017 to date. So, there is an advancement with technology, smart seeds that are disease resistant, and with the right technical expertise as well as financial support we can be a net exporter of rice by the next three years,” he said.
The minister made these remarks at the ministry whilst addressing a delegation of rice investors from Thailand who have partnered with the Jospong Group of Companies to develop an integrated rice farming project.
The Executive Chairman of Jospong Group, Joseph Siaw Agyapong, mentioned that the assurance given by the government to provide strategic support to the private sector in rice production gave impetus to his outfit to embark on a strategic visit to Thailand and learn from their best practices whilst fostering partnership for financial investment in the country’s rice sector.
He indicated that EXIMBANK of Thailand has made a financial commitment of US$160 million in support of machinery and technological transfer as the team of experts from Thailand will provide technical and equipment support for the entire rice value chain in the country.
Furthermore, he emphasized that the project to be executed with the Thailand expertise is a Ghana project and not a Jospong Group because it is bigger than the brand only hence all stakeholders in the rice value chain would be consulted and included in the entire process.
While in Thailand, the Jospong Group signed an MoU with key sector rice players for the establishment of seed development and research centre, rice mechanisation centres in all regions, bio-organic fertiliser production centres, and supply of farm implements and rice mills in the country.