Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture Yaw Frimpong Addo has commended the Ghana Rice Project, describing it as key to the success of the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Program.
Speaking at the close-out and learning event for phase one of the KFW-AGRA program in Accra, he said: “the success of PFJ can’t be mentioned without mentioning these projects in Ghana.”
The Public-Private Partnership for Competitive and Inclusive Rice Value Chain Development Project popularly called the Ghana Rice Project which run from 2018 to 2022, supported the implementation of a consortium grant targeting smallholder rice farmers. The partners also provided an additional grant to mitigate the secondary effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on smallholder farmers in Ghana.
In this partnership, AGRA provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Ministry of Trade and Industry to develop appropriate public-private partnership models to facilitate and mobilise public and private investment in the rice value chain.
Consortium partners led by the John A. Kufuor Foundation and Hopeline Institute, as well as Sparkx Farms, Volta City Farms, and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, implemented the project.
The rice consortium supported production and marketing systems around lead processors to create commercial opportunities for rice farmers, which resulted in increased access to markets, long-term business relationships with processors, improved access to services and products including financing, high-quality inputs, productivity-enhancing technologies, and mechanisation services.
The deputy minister described the project as one of the most instrumental projects implemented by partners to support farmers. “I would want on behalf of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to express my sincere gratitude to KfW and AGRA who secured the necessary funds to operationalise the project that has been one of the key transformational projects in the rice value chain,” he said.
AGRA Ghana country manager Juliette Lampoh – Agroh said the project seeks to build an agricultural value chain that works for all the stakeholders. Kofi Atta Agyepong of KfW said the support for this project is inspired by their desire to “address causes of structural hunger and food insecurity, hidden hunger, malnutrition, among others.” “It sought to promote rural development to provide opportunities to escape poverty. And build systems that enhance sustainable production and consumption, financing and also preserving the environment,” he said.
Ebow Graham of Hopeline Institute told the meeting through the project, about 103,000 rice farmers have been trained in good agronomic practices, and 60,000 metric tonnes (mt) of fertiliser has been mobilised and distributed to farmers. Also, 5 mt, 100 mt, and 6,357 mt of breeder seeds, foundation seeds, and certified seeds have been produced for farmers. Additionally, 300 farmer-based organisations have been mobilised to participate in the program and obtain inputs on credit each season. He said the project has also facilitated the distribution of improved rice seeds under the PFJ campaign in collaboration with the Ghana Rice Interprofessional Body (GRIB).
Bashiru Musah who is Program Officer at AGRA said the project is helping ensure inclusivity among agricultural sector stakeholders, improving collaboration between research entities and seed companies, expanding on agricultural extension services, as well as strengthening partnerships.
“Partnership is key because no one institution can do it on their own… Initially, the thought was for us to invest in about 8 regions. But we were able to move to cover almost all the 16 regions of Ghana… I give credit to key implementing partners including John A. Kufuor Foundation and Hopeline Institute,” he said.
Through the project, the Eat Ghana Rice campaign was launched. Ghana Rice was also listed on the Ghana Commodities Exchange. Through the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending and National Board for Small-Scale Industries, credit facilities were provided to players in the sector.
The government in 2020 directed all state agencies including schools to buy Ghana rice. A national rice development strategy was drafted and rice companies have been directed by government to source at least 30% of their rice locally. Through the project, there is increased consumption of Ghana rice. Now, a lot more high-quality, well-packaged Ghana Rice brands approved by the Food and Drugs Authority, as well as Ghana Standards Authority are on the market, which are better than imported ones.