Members of the Ghana delegation included experts and researchers in various fields drawn from the University of Ghana, Legon, University of Cape Coast, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Center for Scientific and Industrial Research-Crop Research Institute (CSIR-CRI), the Ghana Rice Farmers Association, the Competitive African Rice Platform, traditional rulers, metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) and private entrepreneurs with the focus on rice, fertilizer, maize, cassava and poultry as well as executives of the Jospong Group of Companies (JGC).
According to the deputy Agric Minister, as a leader in rice production, Thailand can support Ghana in its efforts to close its rice consumption demand gap, and also produce in excess to export to countries within the West African sub-region.
“Our [Ghana’s] consumption demand for rice is between 1.2 million and 1.4 million metric tonnes of rice per annum and with this huge gap, the Ghana government together with the small scale rice farmers are only able to do 600,000 metric tonnes,” he said.
He explained that the business forum was a continuation of the rice project that was started some five (5) months ago.
This process, he said, was initiated through the instrumentality of the Executive Chairman of the JGC, Dr. Siaw Agyepong.
Following the huge gap in the demand for the consumption of rice in Ghana, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo tasked the Ministry of Agriculture and all in the the private sector to go at any length to ensure self-sufficiency of rice in the country, he said.
Mr. Addo Frimpong, therefore, commended the initiative by the private sector being spearheaded by the JGC to go into large scale rice production in Ghana, adding that the government of Ghana has given its full support to the project.
He went on to stress that this project will help fill the rice consumption gap in Ghana.
He was also particularly excited at the level of enthusiasm shown in the Ghana-Thailand rice project by stakeholders in Thailand.
“Apart from that, the interest that has been shown by all stakeholders in the rice industry in Thailand is quite remarkable,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Asian African Consortium (AAC), Mrs. Adelaide Araba Agyepong, who is the wife of Dr. Siaw Agyepong, stressed the need for an all hands on deck approach to make the President’s vision of boosting rice production in Ghana a reality.
“Evidence shows that the vision of ending rice importation in Ghana goes beyond Jospong Group of Companies,” she noted.
She indicated that from the inception of the project (last year-2022) till now, a lot of efforts have been put in by her outfit towards actualising the rice project.
“Key among the activities accomplished include the following: the setting up of the Asian African Consortium, as a company to drive the rice project; the engagement of high government officials including the President of the Republic of Ghana; meeting key sector ministers; key rice sector players and many others,” she pointed out.
Mrs. Siaw Agyepong underscored that the forging of strategic partnerships was fundamental to the success of the project.
In this regard, she announced that a fully-furnished National Rice Office for the project has been set up in Accra.
“Three zonal offices in Koforidua, Kumasi and Tamale for the southern, middle and northern belts respectively will also be ready soon for the project. Adequate and suitable lands have been acquired across the country and ready for cultivation,” she further revealed.
She was upbeat that the visit to Thailand will help concretise and firm up the plans for implementation “as soon as we get back to Ghana.”
In a brief remark, the Executive Chairman of the JGC, Dr. Siaw Agyepong, added his voice to the call by the deputy minister of food and agriculture to captains in the Thailand rice sector to come and invest in Ghana.
He stressed that Ghana was a peaceful and safe haven to do business, assuring them that their investments will be protected.