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04.05.2008 Feature Article

Aveyime rice project: the way forward

Aveyime rice project: the way forward
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The world is currently facing food shortages leading to riots in countries such as Haiti, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Senegal among others.

Fortunately for us in Ghana, the situation has not reached that crisis level (at least for now).

But let's face it things are not rosy at all. Prices of food items especially rice, have sky-rocketed.

Rice has become a staple in Ghana far outstripping the dominance of maize in our diet.

Unfortunately, much of the rice that is consumed in the country is imported.

This means Ghana has to spend hard earned foreign currency to bring in the polished rice which is most preferred.

Currently, it is on record that between 350-400 million dollars is spent on the importation of rice annually.

The above are some of the reasons that led to the citing of the 20 thousand acre Aveyime Rice Plantation under the NDC regime.

But unfortunately, the NPP government that took over from the NDC in 2001 played politics with the whole project under the pretext that the project was fraught with corruption.

The NPP government consequently abandoned the project though the then Minister of Agriculture, Courage Quashigah, described the facility as 'state of the art' and instead went on a wild goose chase to prosecute some NDC activists for “willfully causing financial loss to the state”.

Eventually three of the five personalities—Ibrahim Adam, Kwame Peprah and George Sipa-Yankey were convicted for their role in the establishment of the project.

Today, just like the presidential jet saga which the NPP government condemned as a wasteful venture only to turn round to initiate the procurement of two jets at a go, the government has again made a U-turn by bringing in investors to revamp the Aveyime Rice Project after seven years of abandonment.

According to reports, the new investors will own 70 percent of the project with the rest 30 percent going to the government of Ghana.

Under the previous Quality Grain agreement, the investor(s) owned 40 percent of the project while the rest was equally shared between the Ghana Commercial Bank and the Government of Ghana.

As at the time the NPP government came to power, the Aveyime project was ready to take off fully--Farmland prepared, farmers had been settled on the farm, roads constructed, water, electricity and telephone facilities extended to the farm, agricultural machinery such as silos, dryers, tractors, vehicles, combined harvesters, spraying aircraft among other equipment had been brought for the project.

It is so strange that a government that came on the alter of the so-called “Golden Age of Business “ could allow a viable project like the Aveyime project to go waste not to talk of about the over1000 Ghanaians who have lost their job as a result of the government's sheer vindictiveness .

Had the government put aside politics and rather looked at the good side of the whole project, Ghana would have been reaping the benefits of it now.

At least, the country would not have been spending a whooping 400 million dollars on the importation of the same quality of rice the project was meant to produce.

For the seven years that the NPP government had been in power, all that it has done is to demonize and criminalize hardworking people who identified themselves with the previous government.

This has no doubt also culminated in the abandonment of some viable projects which would have otherwise had gone to better the lives of many Ghanaians.

But interestingly, the same the government has on many occasions, gone back on its words to bring about what it has previously condemned the NDC government of engaging in.

By Yao Adjei Mensah of the Greater Accra Regional Communication unit of the NDC

Yao Adjei Mensah
Yao Adjei Mensah , © 2008

The author has 1 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: YaoAdjeiMensah

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