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15.02.2007 General News

Focus On Rice Production

The Food and Agriculture Ministry has taken delivery of some tractors, rice tillers and irrigation pumps to be sold to farmers to help them to increase rice production.

Rice has become a staple in our diet as Ghanaians and any attempt to increase its production locally should be encouraged so that the foreign exchange spent on its importation could be used on something else.

Certainly it is not beyond us to become self-sufficient in rice production if it is made a principal objective to do so.

We recall that under the regime of the late General I. K. Acheampong which prosecuted the Operation Feed Yourself( OFY) programme, the country came close to producing its rice needs.

How did the then government do it? Tractors were imported from Bulgaria and elsewhere and, with the help of Chinese technical support, the Dawhenya Irrigation Project was embarked upon.

Up in the Northern Region, the Nasia Rice Project and the Tamale Rice Mills, under Mr E. T. Nelson, gave rice production the needed impetus.

It may be argued that the population was not as big as it is today, but that is all the more reason rice production should have been given much more attention than we have done.

Surely, nobody could fault the determination and zeal with which the programme to increase rice production was carried out. There was constant monitoring and review of programmes to evaluate how things were moving.

Today, it is sad that the country spends about $300 million annually on the importation of rice when the Accra Plains, the Volta Region and the three northern regions can be put into effective rice production through mechanised methods.

Every day we are bombarded with advertisements in the media on foreign rice, a situation which undermines any effort to pursue self-sufficiency in rice production.

The time has come for us to go to the drawing board and strategise carefully on how to achieve that noble objective.

We know that there are some interventions, such as the Anum Valley rice project and others which have the support of the African Development Bank.

It should be possible for the Agricultural Services Directorate of the ministry to help rice farmers with the mechanical know-how, while its agronomists and extension service officers also provide the necessary support.

We pride ourselves as an agricultural country and there is no earthly reason we should not be able to feed ourselves.

It is our hope that the ministry is on the right path and will not hesitate to import any technology which will make rice production work.

We also appeal to our compatriots to endeavour to patronise the locally-produced, home-grown rice so that farmers will not have problems with the marketing of their produce.

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