A five-year Water Energy Food Programme (WEFP) programme to solve the country’s rice seed deficit has been launched by the Korea Partnership for Innovation of Agriculture (KOPIA) and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Under the project, 100 hectares of farmlands would be mechanised and supported with irrigation to produce 1200 tons of quality rice seeds annually which would be distributed to 12,000 farmers across the country for free.
At the launch of the project yesterday, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Ghana, Lim Jung -Taek indicated that in preparation for the smooth take off of the project, a rice seed warehouse had been inaugurated at Dawhenya to help operations.
“We expect that the new warehouse with a storage capacity of 78,000 bags of rice seeds would make a big difference by storing the good quality rice seeds for farmers,” he said.
The event brought together representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) and rice production enthusiasts from Kenya ,Senegal ,The Gambia, Guinea, Cameroun and Uganda.
Mr Jung–Taek indicated that six high-yield rice varieties and been developed for the project and it would be complemented with effective agricultural mechanisation to yield the results.
“We have developed six high-yield rice varieties for the project and as you are all aware, high-yield rice varieties and agricultural mechanisation are crucial steps in boosting rice production and achieving greater self-sufficiency in Ghana,” the Ambassador noted.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture ,Bryan Acheampong, who was a special guest at the event, expressed his excitement about the project and gave a firm assurance of Ghana’s support for the project.
The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Henry Quartey, said given the importance of the seed industry, it was important to prioritise seed certification globally to ensure that farmers accessed only high quality, genetically pure seeds ,free from diseases and adaptable to the local environment.
“The uninterrupted distribution of quality seed is crucial to ensure that farmers have access to them through all seasons,” he said, further emphasising that the seed industry played an important role in food security, poverty reduction and economic development.
Mr Quartey expressed concern about challenges the rice value chain faced due to lack of quality seed certification and distribution in Africa.
“This could be attributed to lack of investment in research and development, owing to the fact that many African countries have limited resources to invest in Agriculture research, making us rely on external sources for new seed varieties “, he stated .
The minister thus called for investment in the local research institutions by both government and the private sector, to develop new seed varieties that are adaptable to local conditions.