Anloga, July 27, GNA - The government has not abandoned the Quality Grain Project begun by the former government, at Aveyime in the Volta Region, Major Courage Quarshigah (rtd), Minister for Agriculture, has said.
"There are plans to put life into the project, including giving out the operation of the mill and the rice production components to interested private investors to boost the country's rice production capacity," he said.
The Minister said that the rice mill, the main component of the project had not been completed since the silos could not feed the mill partly due to the theft of some equipment at the plant but agreed that some rice had been milled under a Government programme.
"Government wants credible investors who can inject capital into and complete the structure of the Mill to help mill rice produced in parts of the country," he said.
The Minister was speaking in an interview after inaugurating the 450-member Keta District Vegetable Farmers and Marketers Association (KEDVEFMA), at the weekend at Anloga.
He said the government would "retain 60 per cent state interest in any component of the project that shall be given out to any investor to enable the government maintain the direction and safety of the project." The Minister said the project, particularly its milling section, could help meet the country's current annual rice consumption ratio of 30,000 tons, to reduce import, which remained a drain on the economy. He said in case an investor gained the right to use the plant, the government would in addition import about 100,000 tons of paddy rice at a cheaper rate for milling at the plant annually to enable the country to meet the annual consumption requirement of a little over 150,000 tons.
Major Quarshigah said currently, a state committee was evaluating proposals by a number of companies - made up of Ghanaian, foreign and joint Ghanaian-foreign companies - to the government and stated that a report would be submitted within three weeks to the Cabinet for a decision.
He said the government was also evaluating the equipment made up of an aircraft, bulldozers, water pumps and tractors to determine the line of action in view of proposals presented by investors for that section of the project.
The Minister said "a rapid action" was being adopted for the running of the Mill to avoid damage to some parts.
Major Quarshigah expressed regret about the attitude of some dealers in foreign rice who had threatened to cut supply to their Ghanaian agents who deal in the local rice.
"Their actions are impeding the promotion of patronage and consumption of the local rice meant to reduce imports."