Rice production receives boost

...as JICA’s rain-fed rice project phase II begins

Ghana has received technical assistance from Japan to commence the implementation of the Sustainable Development of Rain-fed Lowland Rice Production Project Phase II tomorrow in Tamale.

This follow the success of phase I of the project, which ended in 2014 and was renewed for another five years, but did not start because the parties involved needed adequate time to prepare and plan.

The project is expected to expand the target radius in the Ashanti and Northern regions, boost the various varieties of rice that can withstand drought and establish a complete value-chain for rice cultivation, processes, packaging and marketing in the country.

According to experts in the agricultural sector, Ghana has learned from Japan’s rice development and distribution policy and how to adapt it suit local rice production to increase yield.

About 80 percent of locally produced rice is from rain-fed lowland ecology by small scale rice farmers. Their produce makes it inadequate for the consuming public, hence government, through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have found it necessary to implement phase II of the project.

Speaking exclusively to the Goldstreet Business, Project Formulation Advisor -Agricultural and Rural Development of JICA, Ms. Shuto Megumi said the project is targeting small holder farmers in the quest to increase their yields.

“The project is not an ambitious one. It’s a suitable one which does not require too much skills and capital but is sustainable”, she noted.

On Tuesday January 29th, MoFA and JICA are jointly implementing the phase two of the project in the Northern and Ashanti regions; which is also expected to serve as experience and success sharing meeting of the project.

As a result of adaptation of the technical package of the project, it consists of Land Development and Rice Cultivation Technology which are accessible to small holder farmers as well as adding more marketing skills, improving profitability, building their capacity and ensuring good practices.

With regards to phase I, the average yield for a trial plot was 4.1-unit yield (t/ha) in Ashanti Region and 3.3t/ha in Northern Region for crops during the set period. As a result, the average yield for a trial plot increased to 4.9/ha in Ashanti and 3.6t/ha in Northern. These results show a significant increase in yield compared to the yield before the project started.

The Sustainable Development of Rain-fed Lowland Rice Production Project is a concept of Japanese Technical Cooperation aimed at providing assistance for small holder rice farmers in Ghana to increase production and sustaining them.

All districts in the two regions have been tasked to come along to Tuesday’s project launch with a copy of their respective district medium-term development plan and action plan to secure funding.

By Dundas Whigham