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10.11.2003 Regional News

MOFA to facilitate availability of equipment

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Akuse (E/R), Nov. 10, GNA- Major (Rtd) Courage Quashiga, Minister of Food and Agriculture at the weekend said the ministry would provide rice-thresher and rice reaper-binder small and medium-scale farmers to increase rice production.

In addition, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) will provide improved drying and storage, par-boiling, pre-cleaning and de-stoning facilities at major rice production centres. Maj. Quashiga was speaking at the closing ceremony of 40 Agricultural Extension Agents (AEA), from eight regions and 19 districts at Bob Nam Kim Agricultural School and Farms at Akuse in the Eastern Region. He said MOFA's Agricultural Engineering Services Directorate was collaborating with the private sector to manufacture rice threshers for farmers.

He announced that MOFA will hold "AGRIFEX" in Accra from November 11 to 17, 2003, and said the exhibition will highlight the processing and packaging of cereals, including rice, and also display some of the machinery.

The Agriculture Minister said he was hopeful that the course would sufficiently address the harvesting and post-harvest problems that influenced rice quality and affect marketing of locally produced rice, given the relatively complex rice cooking and eating culture that Ghanaians have acquired.

He said the Ministry was considering proposals to motivate AEA by procuring motorbikes for them, adding that they should be prepared to pay in order to own the bikes.

Dr J.A. Poku, Acting Director of Crop Services of MOFA, noted that there is the need to improve domestic rice production in order to ensure food security and promote import substitution.

In order to achieve this, constraints in the rice industry in production, processing, marketing and funding must be aggressively tackled.

He said the government was pursuing specific measures to increase rice production. The measures include increase mechanisation, cultivation of inland valleys, efficient utilisation of existing irrigation facilities, improved rice seed, provision of credit for production and effective marketing.

The Director commended the Minister for his initiative to organise the course, and ensuring that funds were made available for the successful implementation of the course.

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