The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has disclosed that the government was talking to some African development banks for funds to support rice farming in the Upper East Region.
The sector Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, made the disclosure when he interacted with rice farmers at Gbedemgblisi in the Upper West region, as part of his tour in the northern part of the country.
While commending the rice farmers, he stressed that Upper East holds loads of potential for rice production.
“We have noticed that this region [referring to Upper East] is a potential region for rice production as valleys are developed for rice farming,” he said.
He was upbeat that Ghana will become the rice production centre in the whole of the West African Sub-region.
On that score, Dr. Afriyie Akoto indicated that a bill had been sent to Parliament for a committee to be set up to reward in particular rice farmers in the Upper East.
However, he pleaded with the farmers to cooperate with the government to help stop the illegal exportation of food to neighbouring countries.
Speaking on behalf of the Chief of Gbedemgbilisi, John Amogili, thanked the minister for the visit, adding that “your quest to develop here has really helped provide jobs for my people—we have over 1,000 workers working in the valleys.
He was happy to assert that currently, the youth in Gbedemgbilis do not migrate to other towns to seek for jobs “because there are jobs here.”
He also noted that social vices in the community have reduced drastically.
For the rice farmers, they were very elated at the minister’s visit. However, they lamented that they were confronted with problems such as lack of motorable roads, irrigation facilities, and warehouses to store foodstuff.
From Gbedemgbilis, Dr. Afriyie Akoto visited another rice factory at Fumbisi—Achaabwen Enterprise (Masim Rice). The Operations Manager of Achaabwen Enterprise, John Mensah Ganyaglo, bemoaned that they struggle to get raw materials to feed the factory, adding further that there was a lack of a ready market for their produce.
Dr. Afriyie Akoto rounded up the day by addressing a durbar of staff members of the ministry in the region and other stakeholders at the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council
He urged the rice farmers to switch to organic fertilisers, adding that “in the Savannah areas you could get plenty manure from livestock.”
“I’ll entreat my directors to teach farmers how to use organic fertilisers. I’m really impressed with the yields despite the challenges you’ve been facing,” he expressed.
The minister told the gathering about the ban on the exportation of food to Ghana’s neighbouring countries.
“…but we keep hearing of smuggling of food, and this is really worrying,” the minister bemoaned.
“I’ll entreat your all to report any form of such actions to the authorities. If they want their farmers to produce surpluses they should copy Planting for Food and Jobs. I plead with you to cooperate with the authorities to protect whatever is left in the country,” Dr. Afriyie Akoto pleaded.