Rice farmers in the northern region have participated in an ambitious project that is expected to enable them earn about US$400million from rice production every year.
The two-year pilot project, dubbed “Procurement Governance for Grown School Feeding project”, has already started and is being spearheaded by the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the World Food Programme.
It aims to help rice farmers improve on their yields through access to seeds, tractor services, and appropriate technology for rice harvesting and post-harvest management.
So far, about 3,000 farmers in the Kumbungu, Tolon and the Sagnarigu districts as well as the Tamale Metropolitan Area have been selected to participate in the project.
The Project Manager in-charge of SNV Rice project, Zakaria Jalil, explained that the €540,000 project will help farmers to cultivate about 4,400 hectares of farm land to produce paddy rice.
He said improved production techniques will help the farmers to increase the yields per hectare from about 2.5 metric tonnes per hectare to 6.5 metric tonnes.
Mr. Jalil said the gap in local rice production and imported rice requires financial and logistical resources be provided to enable the farmers improve on their rice production capacity.
“The rice sector can only improve if stakeholders can invest while government also reduces the importation of foreign rice, which is generating income for other countries, and concentrates on that produced in the country. This can help increase the income of farmers and also increase the employment rate in the North,” he said.
Currently, Ghana’s rice import bill stands at about US$500million, which could more than double if statistical projections on rice imports are realised as consumption is projected to reach about 1.6 million tonnes within the next five years.
The country now produces about 30% of the total annual rice consumption of 800,000 metric tonnes in the country.
The Northern Region Area Head of World Food Programme (WFP), Abebe Hnakore has noted that the rice sector could see tremendous growth if government and its development partners extend their support to the local farmers.
He said WFP purchases 15,000 metric tonnes of food to support 179,000 pupils from 487 schools in the three Northern regions to ensure quality food for the younger generation and enable them to have a sound mind to study, as well as improve the enrolment on the schools.
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