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Quality Rice Seed Project Launched At Nyankpala   
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A three-year project aimed at stimulating the production and use of certified and quality rice seeds for rice farmers in the Northern and Upper East regions has been launched at Nyankpala in the Tolon District of the Northern Region.

The $1 million project is being implemented by the Africa Rice Centre (Africa Rice) in partnership with the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), the Agricultural Technology Transfer (ATT) project and other stakeholders in the sector.

The project also seeks to develop a sustainable rice seed system in the savannah ecological zone.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Rice Seed Scaling (RSS) project is funded by the USAID through the Africa Rice Technical Support.

The Ghana Co-ordinator of the RSS project, Mr Boubakary Cisse, said the inability of farmers to gain access to quality rice seeds posed a great constraint in the production of rice in Africa.

He stated that 200 seed producers in the Northern and Upper East regions as well as technicians from the MoFA were also going to be trained by extension staff experts on the best ways to identify counterfeit rice seedlings in the industry to help curb the use of uncertified seeds.

“The project will also provide seed storage facilities, harvesting and threshing equipment for the farmers. It will also conduct 100 field demonstrations for rice farmers on the best seed use and good agricultural practices,” he indicated.

The Director of SARI, Dr Stephen Nutsugah, said uncertified seeds and inappropriate processing technology were the bane of most farmers in the country, which he noted was hampering growth in the sector.

According to the director, “the country spends about US$ 600 million in the importation of more than 350,000 metric tons of rice annually into the country.”

Dr Nutsugah, therefore, described the intervention by the collaborators as refreshing since it would provide seed growers and rice farmers with quality seed and the needed technological know-how to support the development of the rice industry to reduce its growing importation into the country.

He commended the USAID for their support and urged farmers, agro-input dealers and other stakeholders to work together to ensure the successful implementation of the project.

The Deputy Office Director of USAID, Mr Brian S. Conklin, said a total of 10,000 acres of land was to be acquired for rice farmers in the Northern and Volta regions to increase the production of rice in the country.

He said USAID was already supporting other projects in the agric sector in the country and pledged his organisation’s intention to continue with such interventions to make the industry attractive to improve the fortunes of farmers.

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