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March 18, 2009

Ghana aims for rice self-sufficiency

Ghana could more than meet her rice needs and become a model in rice production in West Africa through the Aveyime Rice Project.

Mr Everett Anderson, Managing Director of Prairie Volta Limited, Managers of the Project expressed this optimism in an interview with the Ghana News Agency during a visit to the project site. He said the project could put Ghana in the position to meet the entire rice needs of the West Africa sub-region.

Anderson demonstrated mature crops of 16 rice varieties, 10 foreign and six locals, planted on small-scale research plots to identify the suitable varieties and farming procedures. He said results on all the varieties proved successful.

“We have been further encouraged by the results on the test plants undertaken and optimistic that rice can successfully be grown here,” Mr Anderson said.

He said 100 acres of rice fields have already been planted with Jasmine rice under the company’s first commercial planting, another 200 acres fully developed for planting this month and further fields were being developed for irrigation and crop management.

Mr Anderson who described the assets and equipment including the irrigation milling machines as standard, said Priarie Volta Limited planned to plant 100 acres of the 3000 acres plot every month and harvest 100 acres of the crop per month.

“We would be harvesting 100 acres of rice every month beginning June this year, out of which we expect 1,700 tons of milled rice monthly, he said.

Anderson said more equipment including those designed to work in clayey fields in the rainy season were expected in the country soon, so that production could be undertaken all year round to be able to meet set targets. He said the company would make some of its facilities including the rice mill and expertise available to private rice growers in the country and adopt an out-grower programme to advance the rice industry in the country.

Regarding difficulties rice farmers face in marketing rice in Ghana and West Africa, Mr Anderson said Prairie Volta Limited has long years of marketing their products and are prepared to sell at the prevailing market prices in Ghana and be able to break even.

He said the project would be employing about 100 people and several more directly and indirectly.

Mr Richard Amoasi-Andoh, Finance Manager said returns on the project looked positive given the plantation plans to be followed.

Some of the facilities and equipment the GNA saw included the rice mill, the 15,000 tonne capacity silo, the irrigation machine, tillers, planters, harvesters and the construction of an air strip for the aircraft that would spray chemicals and fertilizers over the farm.

The project initially called the Quality Grains Project was initiated by government over 10 years ago with a 20 million dollar foreign loan.

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