Accra, April 22, GNA - The French Ambassador in Ghana, Mr Pierre Jecquemot on Friday called on the Government to support local rice production industries through injection of financial capital and creation of enabling environment for the growth of the industry. He said Ghana had a tremendous potential for increased rice production to feed and meet the national requirement and also reduce the large rice import bill.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Ghana Rice Inter Professional Body (GRIB) in Accra, Mr Jecquemot said the Government had the capabilities to increase investment in the local rice sector through the provision of the appropriate funding mechanism.
He reminded the Government of the strategic importance of the rice industry to the country in terms of food security and its economic values - import and export - and stressed the need for governmental support.
The Ambassador said the French Government had developed a new rice project to be funded by the Agence Francaise de Developement and the European Union to strengthen the industry in Ghana. Mr Jecquemot said the Embassy in Accra had voted 300,000 euros to support the operations of GRIB to ensure that its aims and objectives were achieved for the transformation of the industry in Ghana. Mr Ralph Mends-Odro, GRIB President, said the aim of the Board was to bring together farmers' organisations, processors and brokers, researchers, policy makers and financial institutions to identify, discuss and develop programmes and strategies to address common problems.
He said GRIB would also provide a forum for policy development and implementation in the rice sector, act as an advocacy group and direct and streamline investment for the development of the sector. Mr Mends-Odro said GRIB had initiated programmes to improve the processing, marketing, packaging and upgrading of small-scale rice mills, introducted modern agricultural technology and provided credit facilities for farmers.
He called for the Development of Rice Development Funds, which would be used to support the development of paddy fields in the inland and lowland valleys for expansion. The inauguration was chaired by Major Courage Quashigah (rtd), Minister of Health and attended by stakeholders in the rice industry, Ministers of State and a cross-section of the public.