The Minister of Food and Agriculture,Mr Kwesi Ahwoi has said the government was committed to developing the rice industry into a major income earner to contribute to rural poverty reduction.
He,therefore, appealed for investments, particularly in mechanization services, for harvesting and milling, which are big challenges to the growth of the sector.
Mr Ahwoi was addressing farmers, staff of the Irrigation Development Authority (IDA) and land owners as part of a familiarization visit to the Afife Rice Irrigation Project at the weekend.
He said Ghanaian rice was competitively being marketed and
advised farmers to produce quality rice to meet the growing local
demand to help reduce the huge annual rice import bill and also to create local jobs.
Mr Ahwoi asked the farmers to revive dying cooperatives or form strong ones to enable them to acquire some mechanization equipment,through produce quota contributions.
He also advised them to reduce production cost at the Afife rice project area, which he said, was the highest in the country.
Mr Ahwoi also advised the IDA staff manning the project not to
allocate less than the minimum two hectares of farm holdings to any
Reacting to a briefing by the Reverend Samuel Boah Boakye, IDA
Scheme Manager in charge of the Afife project, that some farmers hold
as low as 0.4 hectares, the Minister said the minimum two hectares was
designed to enable a farmer to produce profitably to reduce poverty.
“The 0.4 hectares for subsistence farming with its low returns
is defeating the purpose of the project,” he stated.
The Minister, who also toured the dam irrigating the project,
advised the people to stop farming in the encampment of the dam,
saying it caused siltation and inhibited water accumulation.
Rev Boakye said 880 hectares of the 950-hectare potential area
of the project, started by the Russians in 1962, and later developed
by the Chinese, was under cultivation.