Ghana is on the verge of having a final National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) in place to serve as a directional policy for the production, processing and marketing of rice as one of the major food commodities that Government has directed her attention to boost its production in the country.
Ghana to have a National Rice Development Strategy
In a short ceremony to open the workshop, the Deputy Minister (Crops), Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan who read the key note address declared Government’s commitment to address the rice supply-demand gap issues by supporting all productivity enhancement, quality improvement and efficient domestic marketing systems.
The need for a NRDS had come about after several initiatives and interventions by Government to address the many challenges confronting rice production in the country but have not been able to solve the deficit in the domestic supply, a situation that brought about the need for imports to fill the gap.
From this back drop, the Government of Ghana subscribed to participate in the vision of the Coalition for Africa Rice Development (CARD) initiative that was launched in May 2008 during Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) IV in Japan. This sought to support African Countries to double rice production within a period of ten years (2008-2018).
The initiative’s starting point was to assist the subscribing countries to develop a National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) and Ghana’s version of the NRDS was launched in August 2009, which has been one of the major reference documents guiding public, private, civil society organisations, NGO’s and development partners in formulating plans and programmes in rice development in the country.
After six years of its existence and had generated interest among stakeholders and industry players, there was the need to review the document to bring on board emerging issues to further improve its relevance.
The Crop Services Directorate under the Ministry Of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in collaboration with the John Agyekum Kuffour Foundation (JAK) therefore, organized a stakeholder Validation workshop in Accra which converged major stakeholders and industry players to review, update and validate the revised document put forth by CARD in February 2015.
The workshop among other expectations tasked participants to: review and make recommendations to improve the document, suggest the context and conditions under which proposed actions can effectively be implemented by value chain actors and make input into the proposed interventions and established their consistency with proven value chain practices of the sector.
He said that current statistics indicate the country is about 56 percent self-sufficient in rice production which means that the effort to improve local rice industry is gradually being realized, adding that efforts needed to be intensified to get to a 100 percent mark as the country had been there before in the 1970’s and can get there again.
Dr. Yakubu Alhassan mentioned the strategic areas highlighted in the NRDS as: rice seed system, fertilizer marketing and distribution, post-harvest and market, irrigation and water control investments. The rest he said are: equipment access and maintenance, research and technology dissemination and community mobilization, farmer based organisation and credit management.
According the him, after the launch of the document, the NRDS had been one of the documents which had guided rice development in Ghana as many areas identified in the strategy document are being applied by some stakeholders in their operations including public sector institutions and NGO’s like the JAK Foundation that have formulated their projects and programmes from the document. A situation he described had given the Ministry some level of confidence that the document was useful and had already received some level of attention.
He expressed his appreciation for the support and guidance Ghana has obtained under the CARD initiative, together with other African countries, which would help consolidate the National strategic approaches to take advantage of the sub-regional strengths for improved rice production and marketing in Africa.
Dr. Yakubu Alhassan also expressed his gratitude to all participants assembled at the workshop for honouring the Ministry’s invitation and urged them to focus their attention on the enrichment of the drafted document and own it.
Participants were divided into seven groups with each group giving a topic touching on one of the thematic areas provided in the draft document. Out of the group’s discussions some challenges were identified out of which recommendations were made. All these recommendations are to be put together to inform changes in the drafted document and after which if taken through all the necessary tests would be adopted and approved as a national strategy for rice development in the country.
Also present at the opening was the Chief Executive Officer of JAK Foundation, Mr. Baffour Agyemang-Duah.
The JAK Foundation which sponsored this workshop in furtherance of its objectives, seeks collaboration with state institutions, the private sector and civil society organisations, as well as international development partners in programme initiation and implementation.
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