Government is to give support to all traditional areas through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to maximize the production of local crops.

The initiative is to ensure food security in the country and help reduce poverty.

President John Evans Atta Mills said this in a speech read on his behalf at a durbar of chiefs and people of Avatime Traditional Area at Vane to climax the Amu (Rice) Festival celebrations.

The Festival, which was last celebrated in 1989, was on the theme; “Reducing Rural Poverty through Rice Farming.”

The President said it was possible to reduce poverty through agriculture and rice farming in particular and appealed to traditional leaders to make land available to young people desirous of going into farming as business.

He said government would continue to make major agricultural inputs available on affordable terms and also support the country’s universities and research institutes to come out with improved techniques in agricultural production.

He gave the assurance that government would not relent in its efforts to improve the economy to make the country a better place to live, stressing; “we are, indeed, on course and shall not backslide.”

President Mills said his government would honour all promises it made to Ghanaians and called for support from all.

Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Agriculture, in a speech read on his behalf, said the country spent about 600 million dollars annually on the importation of rice alone.

He said Ghana’s per capita consumption of rice increased from 17.5 kg per person per year in 2001 to an estimated 41.1 kg per person per year in 2010.

Mr Ahwoi projected that by 2015, the nation’s per capita consumption of rice would reach 63.0kg per person per year.

He noted however that the country’s self-sufficiency ratio for rice was as low as 30 per cent, making the nation’s rice market largely dependent on imported rice to make up for the deficit.

Mr Ahwoi however gave the assurance that innovative efforts were being put in place to transform the entire agricultural sector into a vibrant and a high yielding one, adding that, “the rice sector has particularly been given top priority to save the country from unnecessary importation of rice.”

He therefore urged young people to take advantage of government’s innovative policies to start projects in agriculture.

Mr Joe Gidisu, Minister for Roads and Highways, cut a sod to commence work on the second phase of the Ho-Fume road project.

That road links up the Tema-Aflao Highway from Sogakope through Adidome to Ho and then over the mountains through Vane to meet the Accra-Hohoe Nkwanta Highway at Fume.

Mr Gidisu said all road networks leading to farming communities would be tackled.

Osie Adza Tekpor VII, Paramount Chief of Avatime Traditional Area, commended the government for not abandoning projects initiated by previous governments and also delivering on the promises it made to the people.

He urged the government to remain focused, resolute and resist distractions.

Osie Adza Tekpor said the festival was to expose the tourism potentials in the area and also hype the nutritious brown rice type grown in the area and called on investors to invest there.

Source: GNA