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16.03.2009 Regional News

Inland Valley Rice Project takes off in W/R

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ONE of the interventions by the government, to forestall the importation of rice into the country, has been the introduction of the Inland Valley Rice Project (IVRP), which is to produce the same quality of rice being imported into the country.

The farmers engaged in the production of the rice told The Chronicle that if government support for the project continues, it could sustain the efforts of all rice farmers in the country.

Some agric experts and farmers in the region believe it would contribute significantly to a reduction of the importation of rice into the country. Successive governments have failed to cut down the importation of rice, because of the poor quality of the local rice.

According to beneficiary farmers of the pProject, the quality of jasmine perfume rice, rice being produced in Ghana, could equate to those imported from other countries.

The project, since its introduction, has provided jobs to many farmers in the country who were unemployed, and had also encouraged those who were not interested in farming to venture into its production.

The cultivation of this rice is done in areas agric experts consider as fertile valley areas.

The Chronicle gathered that many of the farmers, who went into production since the introduction of the project, continue to enjoy a ready market being prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Market women who are into the sale of rice, according to sources at the ministry, have been contracted to market the rice, with initial capital being offered by the ministry to serve as motivation. “They buy the rice from the farmers, and then sell to retailers,” a source at the ministry told The Chronicle.

According to the source, this intervention and marketing strategy adopted, had also provided jobs to many of the rice sellers, largely the market women in the country.

The Western Regional Director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. David Okai, confirmed the viability of the project, in an interview with this reporter.

He said the government had initiated the project with the intention of injecting energy into mass production of rice in the country.

According to Mr. Okai, in its bid to make the programme succeed, the government had also taken it upon itself to transfer technology from experts at the Ministry of Agriculture to the local farmers, for them to be able to handle all difficulties during land preparation, cultivation, and harvesting.

Aside that, he said the ministry had also taken it upon itself to develop the inland valleys for the farmers to begin rice plantations.

The Ministry, he noted, also provided the farmers with available credit facilities to deal with unforeseen circumstances in the course of their work.

Mr. Okai, has meanwhile, confirmed to this reporter that there is a ready market for the farmers after the harvest of their produce.

He said a marketing strategy adopted had encouraged many farmers, who were initially reluctant to join the project, to believe in its viability.

He said all the farmers from the Nzema areas of the region to the Mpohor Wassa East District, had since seen an improvement in their rice production.

Those farmers from the aforementioned areas, who were bold enough to join the project in its early stages, continue to reap the benefits, whilst those who were sceptical about the viability of the project, but later realised its potential, had since developed an interest in its cultivation.

The only problem that may confront the project, according to the Regional Director, would be insufficient rain, but the situation would be handled should it occur.

Last year, for instance he said, the farmers enjoyed a bumper harvest due to enough rain they had.

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