Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in partnership with the Korea Programme for International Cooperation in Agriculture (KOPIA) Ghana Centre launched a $27 million dollar rice development project in Accra to boost rice production and aid Ghana’s quest to achieving national food security.
The project seeks to develop 100 hectares of mechanised and irrigated farmland with the goal of producing more than 1,200 tons of quality rice seeds annually.
Dubbed, ‘Water-Energy-Food Nexus Programme (WEFP) for Better Lives for Rural Development in Ghana,’ it is being funded by the government of Korea. The project is being implemented over the next five years
Mr Lim Jung-Taek, the Korean Ambassador to Ghana, launching the project, noted that high-yield rice varieties and agricultural mechanisation are crucial steps in boosting rice production and achieving greater self-sufficiency in the country.
In view of that, Mr Lim Jung-Taek disclosed that KOPIA Ghana Office and the CSIR have together developed six high-yield rice varieties and conducted preliminary research in preparation for the implementation of the project. The quality rice seeds to be developed through the project, he said, would be distributed to over 12,000 farmers across the country free of charge.
Already, Mr Jung-Taek indicated that the KOPIA Ghana Office has established a rice seed warehouse in Dawhenya with a storage capacity of 78,000 bags of rice seeds to store the good-quality rice seeds for farmers.
“This would also help address the rice seeds shortage problem in Ghana, where less than half of its needs are currently met, and increase rice productivity from three tons per hectare to four tons per hectare.
“It is my firm belief that this project would not only help address Ghana’s rice shortage challenge but also significantly increase its self-sufficiency in rice production, contributing to the Planting for Food and Jobs Initiative.”Mr Jung-Taek
The Ambassador noted that Korea places a high priority in advancing the agricultural sector in Ghana in cooperation with the Ghanaian authorities adding that the WEFP-Ghana Project would serve as a catalyst for achieving food security in Ghana.
Ghana Rolls Out a Rice Seed Tracking System
On his part, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Bryan Acheampong, said, Ghana has rolled out a rice seed tracking system to trace the origin of newly developed varieties of rice seeds to reduce seed adulteration and influx of fake ones.
Mr Bryan Acheampong noted that, the move was part of initiatives to improve the rice seed value chain and enable efficient rice seed regulation and quality assurance for certifying agency.
Additionally, the Agric Minister said, the Ministry is building the capacity of seed certification officers and other major stakeholders to ensure quality control of seeds during production, multiplication, conditioning and distribution and also towards maintaining a desired quality for seed production.
Mr Acheampong noted that the Ministry is also focused on the provision of improved seed storage facilities such as warehouses and cold rooms as well as marketing and distribution channels.
This, he noted, are geared towards slow pace of dissemination and adoption of new varieties despite a fair-paced variety development and release system, unstructured markets, inadequate cold stores for seed storage, weak seed industry data, and inadequate knowledge and skills among the seed value chain actors.
Mr Acheampong stated that, certified quality seed was a pre-requisite to any successful agriculture venture and constitutes a major pathway for the achievement of national food security.
In this regard, Mr Acheampong asserted that the Ministry through its regulatory body, Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD), has supported production of certified seeds and improved planting materials for both staple and industrial crops.
Mr Acheampong explained that, this has resulted in farmers adapting to the use of certified seeds in rice production compared to using farmer saved seeds.
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