Agricultural mechanisation key to ensuring rice sufficiency in Ghana – John A. Kufuor Foundation

A Policy Advisor at the John A. Kufuor Foundation, Nana Ama Oppong-Duah, has expressed optimism that investing in agricultural mechanisation will help Ghana to be self-sufficient in rice production.
“If we want to be self-sustainable in rice production, we must mechanise,” she noted, urging the private sector to support the country’s mechanisation drive by providing agricultural machinery such as tractors and irrigation equipment to farmers.



Similarly, she noted, the government ought to pay more attention to irrigational infrastructure “because it’s very expensive for private sector to do this and there’s a lot of issues with land acquisition and chieftaincy issues that is best suited when government takes the lead.”

For her, the government apart from providing irrigation facilities, could help rice farmers in the areas of land preparation, saying “so if government can take that part of the cost, the private sector can also come up with the milling, storage, logistics for marketing and those kinds of stuff.”

Madam Oppong-Duah made the remarks in a media interaction at a learning event on the ‘Ghana Rice Project’ in Accra recently.

Background



The event saw the unveiling of findings from research carried out in about 140 districts to identify gaps in local rice production following the implementation of the “Public-Private Partnership for Competitive and Inclusive Rice Value Chain Development: Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Rice Chapter Project.”

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is funding the project to improve the rice value chain in Ghana. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the John A. Kufuor Foundation, Intervale Ghana, Hopeline Institute, Sparkx Farms and Volta City Farms are the consortium partners implementing it.

Local capacity

Ghana currently spends more than US$600 million importing rice annually despite local capacity to produce more than enough.

For Madam Oppong-Duah, Ghana could reduce its rice import drastically, if local rice farmers are supported with the needed logistics.

She observed that rice, unlike other crops, “needs very even land that has been well prepared where the lumps are all broken down and its relatively flat. And that’s why rice is special and requires quite a bit of mechanisation and it also needs water.”

She said many smallholder farmers did not have the capacity to afford implements that could be used to prepare lands for rice production.



“You need the tractors, threshers, irrigation facilities. It’s very easy to buy a tractor. But what really takes time is putting in place irrigation infrastructure and preparing the land so you can plant on. Land development for rice is expensive and irrigation is expensive,” Madam Oppong-Duah noted.

She said the Foundation and its partners such as the Alliance for Green Revolution Africa are working with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to get rice farmers the needed supports to enable them produce more rice locally.

“We also have a mechanisation component which we were talking about to be able to identify mechanisation service providers and link them directly to rice and cassava farmers to be able to have a more efficient value chain in the districts,” Madam Oppong-Duah explained.

“The good thing about this is that we are partnering with private sector actors like TATA, John Deere, Troto Tractor, and of course some of the government bodies to be able to bring this service to farmers,” she added.

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