Bolgatanga, Jan. 18, GNA - The Food Research Institute (FRI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) has organised a national rice parboiling competition, as part of renewed efforts to improve the quality of locally produced rice. In all, 30 women participated in the competition, which was funded by the Crop Post-harvest Programme (CPHP) of the Department for International Development (DFID) of Britain.
Nine of the participants from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, who excelled in the competition, were presented with prizes at a ceremony in Bolgatanga on Wednesday. Each of the award winners received a mini-bag of parboiled rice, a set of cooking pans and an unspecified amount of cash. The occasion was also used to out-door a new aluminium vessel, specially designed by the FRI for rice parboiling, after almost seven years of research.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Regional Director of Agriculture, Mr Roy Ayariga, observed that large-scale production of rice had become possible in recent times due to technological advancement and mechanised agriculture.
"The other important issue that needs emphasis now is quality improvement," he added.
Mr Ayariga said imported rice had received great patronage on the local market because of its quality, and urged the award winners to take up the challenge of endearing the local variety to Ghanaian consumers. He said rather than a luxury meal for only the privileged, rice had become a dominant staple in most homes nationwide in recent times. He urged participants to spread the parboiling technology throughout the country to meet the ever-increasing demand for rice.
Mr Ayariga said spoke about the Food and Agricultural Budgetary Support Fund and the Farmer-based Organisation Fund in the District Assemblies, and appealed to the women to form co-operative groups to enable them to access those funds.
A research scientist from the Food Research Institute, Dr John Manful, who supervised the competition, indicated that the nine award winners would become trainer of trainers in their respective communities.
He commended participants for the quality of rice they had produced, but urged them to strive to improve it even further. "You should always take your time to remove all foreign objects and damaged grains from your product before sending it to the market," he emphasised.
Two of the award winners, Madam Alimatu Zakaria from Tamale, and Madam Vida Abisiba from Navrongo, gave their impressions about the new parboiling vessel. They said it had many advantages over the ordinary iron pots they used previously for the job, citing its capacity to take one whole bag of rice at a time and economy of fuelwood, among others.