GOVERNMENT has set an ambitious target to increase rice production by a whopping 49% just this year as a measure to reduce rice imports to save the economy foreign exchange.
As at the end of 2016, Ghana’s rice production stands at 687,680 metric tonnes, according to figures from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA).
1,025,180 metric tonnes to be produced in 2017
Therefore, plans to increase production by 49% this year means an addition of 337,500 metric tonnes which will put total production this year to a little over one million (1,025,180) metric tonnes.
Production to increase by 337,500 metric tonnes this year
The 337,500 metric tonnes increase expected this year is estimated to translate into GH¢371.2million (GH¢371,250,000) as value of this additional production.
226,800 direct and indirect jobs
This will also create some 226,800 direct and indirect employment comprising 32,400 direct jobs, 194,400 indirect jobs.
$1billion rice imported in 2015
As at end of 2015, figures indicate that government spent $1billion on the import of rice.
Minister for Food and Agric, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said the rice production target is one of the five crops this year under the ‘Planting for food and jobs’, campaign to be launched in April, this year, to turn farmlands and backyards into a huge food basket that is expected to cut down the country’s food import bill drastically.
5,625 metric tonnes of improved seeds
To achieve this target, 5,625 metric tonnes of improved seeds would be required at a cost of GH¢22,921,875 with the unit price of seed being GH¢163.
Flexible arrangement arrangements
The sector minister explained that the seeds would be provided to the farmers at a significantly reduced cost under flexible arrangement arrangements in which farmers would make 50% upfront payment and pay the rest after harvest.
The rice farms need 28,125 metric tonnes (562,500 bags) of NPK fertilisers at a unit price of GHc85 per bag making the total cost GH¢47.8million (GHc47,812,500).
In addition, 14,062.5 metric tonnes (281250 bags) of Urea/SA fertilisers at a unit price of GH¢80 per bag which amounts to GH¢22.5million (GH¢22,500,000).
Dr. Afriyie Akoto stated that the success of the Akufo-Addo government is largely linked to the success of the agriculture sector.
In this light, he said “Planting for food and jobs” is modelled on the highly successful ‘Operation Feed Yourself’ programme of the 1970s.
He explained that this year, 200,000 farmers are being selected nationwide and individuals willing to cultivate vegetables and other crops in their backyard would also participate.
Already, district and regional directors of agriculture have been directed to develop criteria for the selection of the farmers who would be supported with farm inputs and extension services in this year’s programme.
This year, maize, rice, soybean, sorghum and vegetables, including tomato, onion and pepper, are the five main crops for concentration
The government has budgeted a little over GH¢560 million to cater for the five pillars of the campaign — seeds, fertiliser, extension services, marketing and e-fertiliser.
Breakdown of GH¢560m investment
According to the breakdown of the budget, GH¢74.7 million will go into the provision of seeds, GH¢238.7 million for fertiliser, GH¢32 million for extension services, GH¢200 million for marketing and GH¢15 for e-agriculture and monitoring.
Apart from the hundreds of jobs it is expected to create, the campaign is also expected to guarantee food security, provide cheap food for the urban areas, raw materials for the livestock and the industrial sectors and surplus produce for export to the ECOWAS sub-region.
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