Government committed to seeing Aveyime rice project flourish-Ahwoi
Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, has said the government was committed to seeing the Aveyime Rice Project flourish.
He said the viability of the project, with the capacity to largely reduce the current 450 million dollars annual rice import, had never been in doubt.
Mr Ahwoi said this when he visited the Aveyime Rice Project and met staff and management of Prairie Volta Limited of the USA which owns 40 percent shares in the project.
Ghana government and Ghana Commercial Bank take up the remaining 60 percent shares at 30 percent apiece.
Mr Ahwoi expressed regret about the eight-year delay in the commencement of the project and the huge rice import bill this had entailed for the country.
Mr Ahwoi said the previous National Democratic Congress government started the project with a 20-million dollar fund and at that time Ghana's rice imports bill stood at 100 million dollars annually.
Mr Ahwoi said the NDC government was therefore passionate about the project and wanted it to succeed.
He said the new investors spent 6.5 million dollars rehabilitating equipment neglected on the farm and another 6.5 million dollars to get production started.
Mr Ahwoi said the combined rice production from Aveyime and parts of the northern regions would help the country achieve a breakthrough in the production and export of rice.
He said the 60-tonne capacity rice mill at Aveyime would produce quality rice that could make the longing for foreign rice a thing of the past.
Mr Ahwoi said the ban placed by China, Thailand and India on rice exports was enough warning to Ghana to progress quickly towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice production.
Mr Ahwoi said government was looking at the food import tariff system to discourage particularly rice imports.
Mr Everett Anderson, Managing Director, Prairie Volta Limited, took the Minister round the farm where about 300 hectares of the land had been planted with rice with more land being developed for irrigation and planting.
He said the land and water bodies available for irrigation in Ghana place the country in good stead to become a major rice producer in West Africa.
Mr Anderson said the company would plant all 3,177 acres under the project within three years and expect 15,000 tonnes of milled rice annually.
He said test plant of 16 rice varieties, 10 of them foreign and six local, had shown excellent success.
Mr Ahwoi also inspected the revamped Irrigation facility of the Irrigation Development Authority (IDA) at Aveyime, which is serving about 100 small scale farmers in the Aveyime and Battor areas.