US$684m earmarked to improve rice value chain

Government is resolved to invest US$684million into domestic rice production and processing as a pathway to self-sufficiency.

The decision, which was reached at the recently held Dakar II Summit, seeks to increase local rice production toward attaining self-sufficiency. It will also reduce the country’s US$560million annual rice import bill and its concomitant impact on cedi depreciation. This will be achieved through productivity growth and area expansion, improving post-harvest rice quality and value addition.

The investment is expected to increase domestic rice production from the current 1.14 to 2.4 million tonnes per annum, and increase yields by some 30 percent.

Chief Director of Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Robert Ankobia – who revealed this to the B&FT at an agriculture roundtable discussion organised by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) in Accra, said the money will also assist in the expansion of certified seed production to 25,000 tonnes per year; rehabilitate 21,000 hectares of irrigated lands; and develop 81,000 hectares of new rain-fed rice lands.

Accordingly, MoFA noted that US$21million will be expended on research and development programmes focused on expanding access to high quality rice varieties; US$613million on land development programmes including irrigation; US$18million on technical assistance programmes, and US$32million on post-harvest programmes and technologies.

“The above plan to invest in local rice is part of pathways and the country’s compact during the Dakar II Summit to attain self-sufficiency and agrifood transformation for the next five years,” Mr. Ankobia said.

Important features of the compact include the prioritization of key sub-sectors with the highest impact on food security, with key considerations for poultry, rice and soybean.

Overall, the compact focuses on production expansion and loss reduction in the country’s food value chain.

Country Director of MEDA Ghana, Robert Austin, explained that it is important for government to prioritize agricultural investments in order to put the country on the path of growth.

The discussion, which was themed ‘Investing in agriculture for employment’, according to Mr. Austin has become necessary to spark the conversation on job creation for young people in the agriculture sector.

MEDA is an international economic development organisation that creates business solutions to poverty. For nearly 70 years, MEDA has been creating business solutions to poverty that are sustainable, scalable, measurable and replicable.

Hosted by Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairperson of the African Union, and co-hosted by the African Development Bank Group, the Dakar Summit brought together governments, the private sector, multilateral organisations, non-governmental organisations and scientists to meet the escalating challenge of food security in Africa.