A Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Kennedy Nyarko Osei, has revealed that Ghana is working around the clock to cease the importation of rice in the country based on the recent projections.
According to him, government is already working hard to ensure that rice imports will come to an end by 2022.
He said it follows the success chalked as the country did not import maize between January and September this year due to increased local maize production.
Speaking in an interview with Kwame Tutu on ‘Anopa Nkomo’ on Accra based Kingdom FM 107.7, Kennedy Nyarko Osei, said, “we import billion dollars of rice into the country but the Agric Ministry led by Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto is determined that by the end of 2022 we will stop importing rice from other countries based on our projections. ”
He continued, “The two crops we are focusing on are rice and soya; soya because of the poultry industry and rice because of import substitution. The Government of Ghana about two years ago introduced its flagship agricultural project dubbed: ‘Planting For Food and Jobs.”
He added, “Changing the structure of our economy through diversification and value addition will not happen overnight. It remains a major pre-occupation of the government because it is our pathway to reduce dependency, expand the economy, create jobs, increase exports, reduce imports and support the value of our currency.”
Member of Parliament for Akim Swedru stated that the government was totally committed to the agricultural sector, with an initial focus on support to smallholder farmers.
Meanwhile, Ghana would save close to a billion dollars, should the country put a stop to rice imports.
He says the government should help smallholder farmers to achieve high yields in line with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Also, the provision of improved grains under the planting for food and jobs program may suffice as a means to improve the yield of local rice farmers.
The Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme is a Government of Ghana (GoG) designed and implemented programme aiming to promote growth in food production and create jobs across the country.
PFJ, seeks to create food security and produce the raw material to feed the agro-processing industries while creating jobs in the process.
The Planting for Food and Jobs is expected to be rolled out in all 216 districts across the country, and will involve the supply of farm resources such as high yielding and improved seedlings to participating farmers.
The NPP government has said that, it intends to revolutionize agriculture in the country by introducing the programme which is expected to create more than 750,000 jobs.
The programme, according to the government, would also motivate farmers to grow staple foods such as maize, millet, and beans.