The Chairman of the Jospong Group of Companies, Dr. Joseph Siaw Adjepong has challenged Ghana to learn from the Nigerian experience and become self-sufficient in rice production.
“If Nigeria has done it, we can do; let’s not reinvent the wheel, let’s copy from them,” he passionately appealed.
Dr. Adjepong was speaking at a two-day Ghana Food Security conference 2023 themed ‘Enhancing Food Security: The role of Ghanaian scientists’, at Gomoa Fetteh in the Central Region.
Nigeria, after banning the importation of rice, has made remarkable progress in rice production over the previous decade – surpassing Egypt with yearly production of 5.8m tonnes.
In 2019, rice accounted for more than 14% of crops grown by Nigerian households.
“Nigeria is gradually becoming a rice-growing superpower,” he noted.
He however added that most commodities – including rice, maize, soya and tomatoes – are facing supply shortages in Ghana.
He therefore vowed that with the Jospong Group Rice Project’s advent, importation of rice into the country will be minimised if not stopped completely.
“Where we (JG) see a problem, we confront and solve it; and this project that we have begun, ‘walahi talahi’, the [rice] importation must stop,” he vowed.
He encouraged the stakeholders, particularly rice farmers and scientists, not to despair that there are no adequate policies to support the initiative, but rather be hopeful that when ‘fruits begin to yield’ policies will change to favour them.
“Whether policy is supporting or not, never be discouraged; let us do our part, and when we begin to yield fruit policies will change to favour us,” he assured.
Quoting former President Barack Obama, he further challenged government to choose hope over the fear that if it bans importation of rice Ghanaians will go hungry – but rather be hopeful that the Ghanaian farmer will be challenged and empowered to produce quality rice for the country.
CEO of the Asian African Consortium (AAC), Mrs. Adelaide Siaw Adjepong – who is leading the Jospong Group Rice Project, noted that science, research and development have traditionally been the drivers of innovation and productivity, and are central to everything done in the world.
According to her, if immediate measures to enhance food production are not undertaken, the cost of Africa’s yearly food import might rise from US$50billion to US$110billion by 2030.
“When there is a food crisis, the poor suffer most since they are unable to obtain food due to price hikes,” she noted.
She said this motivated the Jospong Group and AAC in partnership with the CSIR to “perceive” the need to bridge Ghana’s food security concerns.
On his part, the Director General-Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Prof. Paul Bosu, -s hopeful that the two-day conference will chart a course toward realising Ghana’s goal of achieving food security and becoming self-sufficient in rice production.
“We in Ghana have all that we need to become food-secure,” he stressed.
He reiterated that the CSIR and AAC recently signed an MoU to work together toward the vision of helping Ghana become food-secure.
“We need to support government in achieving its objective of feeding the Ghanaian population and earning more foreign exchange,” he charged the stakeholders.
The General Secretary of the Church of Pentecost, Apostle Alexander Nana Yaw Kumi-Labi -who spoke on behalf of the Chairman of Church of Pentecost, noted that this initiative has come at the right time to help Ghana achieve Sustainable Development Goal two: ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture’.
He noted that the conference theme, ‘Enhancing Food Security: The Role of Ghanaian Scientists’, is crucial in Ghana’s development discourse; especially at a time when the economy is distressed.
“While we await IMF assistance, it is critical that steps be taken locally to strengthen our country’s economic issues,” he noted.
The Church commended the CSIR, whose key mandate is to drive national development and global competitiveness in industry through scientific and technological research, for partnering with Jospong Group.
He noted that the conference is rightly in sync with the 5-year vision of the Church of Pentecost, which has the theme ‘Possessing the Nations’.
“The overarching goal is to equip members who will possess their nations by transforming every worldview, thought and behaviour with the values, principles and lifestyles of the Kingdom of God, thereby turning many to Christ,'” he mentioned.
The conference aims to establish inter-institutional technical teams with clear roles and responsibilities to drive the production of selected commodities (i.e. rice, jute, maize, soya-bean, tomato, onion, etc.), and establish timelines for deliverables among others.
The conference brought together many partners from universities, experienced civil servants from all persuasions and agencies, and other partners from Nigeria and Thailand.