The Asian-African Consortium (AAC), a subsidiary of Jospong Group of Companies, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Cape Coast (UCC) to undertake research to boost rice, maize and soya production in the country.
The objectives of this partnership are to identify common areas of collaboration to address the parties’ overall mandate; develop a plan for collaborative operations; and detail the scope and principles of engagement between the parties while aiming at achieving food efficiency in the country.
AAC-CEO, Mrs. Adelaide Araba Siaw Agyepong, at the signing ceremony in Accra on Thursday, April 20, 2023 noted that the agreement will facilitate ACC’s collaboration with UCC research institutes across Ghana to deepen research and development for social change and deal with challenges to economic growth and development.
She further added that it will also facilitate the establishment of a research and development consortium comprising business, crop science, technology, agriculture engineering and chemical-engineering as a standing committee to advise on the full value-chain for rice, maize, soya and the production of other staples.
“Again, this arrangement will facilitate the establishment of a seedling centre for the commercial production of seedlings for sale to farmers,” she hinted.
She emphasised that: “The ACC’s integrated rice project is to meant make Ghana self-sufficient in rice production, resulting in significant economic benefit for the country”.
The AAC-CEO noted that the partnership is crucial for increasing collaboration and boosting Ghana’s economy.
Mrs. Siaw Ageypong was particularly pleased with the arrangement between the two institutions, and is hopeful that this MoU will pave the way for many other collaborations between the two institutions.
Prof. Johnson Nyarko Boampong, Vice Chancellor-University of Cape Coast, reiterated that the university has specialised training for students to become entrepreneurs and self-sufficient, and also enabled to create jobs for others.
“We also focus on empowering our students with competencies to succeed in life,” he added.
He lamented that with Ghana’s abundant resources and arable land, it still imports food which it can produce locally.
“It is very sad that Ghanaians have to import from other countries to feed ourselves, yet there are countries with no arable lands who have found ways to produce food locally and even export,” he lamented.
He therefore stressed that the university is fully behind the project – noting that in its small way of complementing efforts to curb importation, it has acquired 450 acres of land for agricultural purposes.
Executive Chairman-Jospong Group, Dr. Joseph Siaw Agyepong, in brief remarks noted that agriculture and research must go hand-in-hand to ensure the country derives its full benefits.
He noted that rice is now a staple food in Ghana, and initiatives must be taken to produce quality and the needed quantity backed by research; and this cannot be achieved without academia.
He encouraged the university to ensure that they come up with seedlings which can withstand Ghanaian conditions, as well as produce the needed yields for maximum benefit.
“We have the knowledge and resources to see this through, therefore you have no excuse not to perform,” he reminded the academics.
Last year, the Asian-African Consortium entered into partnership with major rice industry players in Thailand and Ghana to develop an integrated rice farming project. This move by Jospong Group stemmed from government’s decision to boost the economy through import substitution.
A core team later visited Thailand for the Ghana-Thailand Business conference in March 2023, with researchers from various universities in Ghana as well as major players in the rice industry.
Last year, Ghana spent over GH¢6.8billion (equivalent to US$560million at current market rates) importing rice, a grain that can be produced locally.
While total rice consumption stood at 1.4 million metric tonnes in 2022, imports valued at US$560million accounted for 800,000 metric tonnes (m/t) of the consumption figure – with domestic production catering for the remaining demand according to data from IDH Sustainable Trade, a foundation headquartered in The Netherlands.
Similarly, according to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, between 2010 and 2020 the country’s rice imports hit a staggering US$8billion. This – in addition to imports of other food items that can be produced locally – has been a major source of concern for stakeholders