About 3,000 rice farmers in the Northern Region have received support to produce preferred rice varieties that are in demand in the country to reduce high importation of the staple.
The project — initiated by SNV, a Netherlands Development Organisation — is expected to yield about 8,500 tonnes of Jasmine and Alliance for Green Revolution (AGRA) rice seeds to increase yields and meet the demands of consumers.
As part of efforts to achieve the targets, SNV has established 15 demonstration fields to enable farmers undergo training to transfer improved technology in rice production and adapt to the changing trends to produce quality, tasty, aromatic and stone-free rice for consumers.
The production of unpleasant grains deter consumers from patronising locally-produced rice, thereby affecting production and income of the farmers.
This came to light at the farmers’ field-day at Ligbaa, a farming community in the Savelugu Municipal Assembly in the Northern Region.
The five-year project is dubbed ‘Consumer-Oriented Rice Production, Key to a Competitive Rice Industry’, and in partnership with its partners is focused on business brokering between farmers and marketers of rice and other value chain actors to sustainably meet the rice needs of Ghana.
Mr. Zakaria Jalil, Project Manager SNV Local Rice Can Feed West Africa, said Ghanaian rice farmers and processors are in competition with other farmers on the global market, so there is a need to support local farmers with the logistics and inputs.
This, he said, will promote the production of consumer-preferred varieties and promote quality processing as well as consumption of local rice.
He stressed that until stakeholders in the rice sector are able to respond to consumers’ expectation, the country’s quest to drive an import substitution agenda will be a mirage.
According to him, over 70 percent of the beneficiaries have adapted to two or more best practices in rice production, which has helped them to increase yield.
He reiterated that the system of Rice Intensification (SRI) has been a major set of principles and practices of technologies transferred in the project to increase yields, which the farmers have embraced to expand their agribusiness.
He added that the beneficiaries have also gained access to tractor services, fertilizers, seed and working capital, technologies in water and soil conservation with extension services.
He therefore called on stakeholders and others donor agencies to invest in the rice sector to scale up the project, saying the SNV rice project is geared towards supporting the production and processing of high quality rice to feed the nation.
Mr. Mansu Jacob, Executive Director Northern Development Society, said the organisation focuses on building the capacity of local rice farmers, small scale processors and other farmers to adopt to new technologies to increase in the quality and quantity of the local rice.