Worawora (V/R), Nov. 7, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Saturday said government was seriously considering a one billion cedi request from the Worawora Rice Mill (WRM) to support an out-grower scheme and the rehabilitation of idling silos at Worawora, in the Jasikan District. He said a further 1.75-billion cedis working capital to source for paddy rice was also receiving attention.
President Kufuor outlined these in an address read for him at the annual Akwantuteten festival for the chiefs and people of Worawora, which also coincided with the commissioning of the refurbished two-metric tonnes per hour capacity WRM, with a price outlay of 50,000 dollars.
The redundant Oti Rice Mill, as it was formerly called, became non-operational since 1975, after its establishment by the Agricultural Development Bank and the National Investment Bank.
It was re-activated through financial assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and TechnoServe, an American Non-Governmental Organisation.
President Kufuor said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) would supply improved seeds and other technical needs of the rice farmers in the area, through its extension and other farmer services. He said the Mill was a significant step towards helping government to fulfil its objective of reducing rice imports from the current high levels of about 100 million dollars per annum.
President Kufuor, however, challenged the management of the Mill and the people to ensure that the factors that led to the collapse of the former Oti Rice Mill "do not revisit the WRM".
President Kufuor urged farmers in the catchments area to adopt appropriate agronomic practices and ensure they cultivated recommended market-led varieties of continuous quality paddy to feed the Mill.
"This way, the Mill shall remain a sustainable entity and continue to provide strong market demand for paddy rice", the President said. He was optimistic that management of the Mill would ensure that raw material for processing was available from harvest to the next, to avoid the situation where the expensive equipment would be idle at any time.
Major Courage Quashigah (rtd), Minister of MOFA said with the expected yield of four-metric tonnes per hectare, rice farmers would have to cultivate 2,000 hectares of land to enable them to meet 67 percent of the processing capacity of the Mill.
He said the re-activation of the Mill had offered an opportunity for rice farmers in the catchments area to make investment and reap rewards from the land.
Major Quashigah said rice production at Afife in the Ketu District had doubled since 2002, as about 880,000 hectares of land had been cultivated.
He re-assured farmers that the President's Special Initiatives (PSI) on oil palm and cassava would be replicated throughout the country and the cocoa industry revamped in the region.
He commended USAID and especially TechnoServe for their immense contribution towards safeguarding food security in the country and value addition to agricultural programmes.
The Volta Regional Minister, Mr Kwasi Owusu-Yeboa said the reactivation of the Mill was government's good leadership qualities and commitment towards bringing improvements to the lives of the rural poor.
He commended the members of the Worawora Development Association for their visionary leadership, which had culminated into reviving the Mill. Daasebre Asare Baah III, Omanhene of Worawora appealed to government to institute a feasibility study into prospecting of gold in the area and commending it for the enormous development projects that had sprung up in the area.
Present was Nana Akompi Finam II, Kadjebihene and a member of the Council of State. 07 Nov. 04