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17.08.2005 General News

Government to ensure food security - Eledi


Accra, Aug. 17, GNA - Mr Clement Eledi, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, on Wednesday said the Government would continue to create the enabling environment that would encourage progress towards the attainment of food security.

He said the Government was determined to ensure that the population had sufficient, safe and nutritious food for a healthy and active life. "We will continue to create the enabling environment that would encourage progress towards the attainment of food security, with attention on important crops like rice, for which we have a collective responsibility to promote," he said.

Mr Eledi was addressing 26 participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Benin and Mali at a two-day regional workshop on: "Sharing Experiences on Post-Harvest Rice Handling in West Africa" which opened in Accra. The Food Research Institute (FRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is organizing the workshop with support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Mr Eledi said rice had become one of the most rapidly growing food sources in Ghana, with domestic demand exceeding production. "Under the circumstance, we are forced to import large quantities of rice into the country, presently estimated at about 100 million dollars per annum," he said.

Mr Eledi said this was against the background of Ghana having a high potential to expand rice production from large areas of wetlands that could be developed for such a purpose.

He mentioned some of the potential rice sites as the coastal wetlands, inland basins, river flood plains and inland valleys saying all these were available for development through both irrigation and rain-fed production systems.

Mr Eledi said improved upland rice production systems were being considered by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the bid to expand rice production.

"The Government is desirous of supporting farmers in several ways to ensure food security at the household level as one of the ways of reducing poverty.

"If rice-based production systems are expanded, then their resultant or associated post-harvest operations will employ some people in rural areas, leading to increased household incomes," he said. He said the Ministry was making efforts to implement programmes and other donor supported investments that expanded opportunities for vulnerable groups in the rural communities especially where there was high potential for rice production.

Mr Eledi expressed the hope that the experiences shared by participants would address rice post-harvest operations in the West Africa Sub-Region.

Dr Wisdom A. Plahar, Director of FRI, in his welcoming address said there was the need to adopt a collective effort to boost rice handling in the Sub-Region "To meet the international challenge, boosting rice production alone would not be sufficient, but rather production of high quality rice is the answer."

Dr Plahar explained that concerns about the quality of locally produced rice emphasized the need for general improvement of the post-harvest handling practices of all stakeholders in the rice industry.

Dr Ben Dadzie, Regional Coordinator, Crop Post-Harvest Programme, DFID, said his outfit would continue to support countries where there was peace, stability, democracy and good governance.