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General News of Monday, 13 July 2009

Source: financial Intelligence( Justice Lee Adoboe)

Quality Aveyime rice hits market in August

... to adopt competitive pricing

In about a month from now high quality perfumed rice from the Aveyime rice fields would start hitting the markets all over the country.

The rice which would be packaged mostly in 5 kilos with special orders in 20 and 30 kilos are expected to force down prices of imported rice since management of Prairie Volta Ltd (PVL), current operators of the farm believe they have all it takes to adopt competitive pricing in their marketing.

John Paul Baree, Farm Manager of the Aveyime fields told the Financial Intelligence (FI) that there is no difference between the Jasmine rice variety cultivated on the Aveyime farms and whatever is imported.

Currently the farm has harvested 360 metric tones of rice from eight acres, but is expected to hit 2000 metric tones by the end of the year. This, Mr. Baree believes though modest, would help the food security situation in the country for this year.

The farm manager noted that their operations this year were hampered by the fact that they spent some of the time to familiarize themselves with the area while dealing with the problem of land litigation.

He however expressed delight that most of those problems have been resolved now to allow for smooth operations in the years to come.

“Rice farming in Ghana is profitable, and we would not have been here if we would not be able to compete favourably with the world market”, he noted.

Mr. Baree said Prairie Volta would adopt cost saving measures in future and also ensure higher productivity so that the quantum of rice per acreage would increase in future. He believes when these are done local rice can be more affordable than the imported.

The farm manager also noted that one of their problems had to do with machine break-down which was as a result a long period of disuse. He however confirmed that the investment in machinery made by quality Grains was the best since the machinery are some of the best one can find anywhere in the world.

He advised that the state encourages all the other projects that are coming on board so that between now and 2011, together with the Aveyime project; Ghana would be able to produce a substantial portion of its local rice demands.

The farm currently has a 30% government of Ghana ownership while Mr. Anddison and his Prairie Rice friends hold 70% stakes. It has a 3000 acre land close to the River Volta where water is drawn from to irrigate the farm lands.

Prairie Volta Ltd currently has a total number of 126 employees, 86 of them being permanent while about 50 are casual.

George Selase Ocloo, Director for Research and Development believes that since Jasmine is the highest quality premium rice the world over, Aveyime rice stands the chance to be in high demand on the Ghanaian market.

Around the late 1990s rice importation cost Ghana about $100 million in foreign exchange. The then government therefore decided to tackle the issue by establishing a local rice farm project fitted with a world class rice mill.

Ms Cotton whose Quality Rice company won the bid to access the about $20 million facility was later accused of misapplying part of the funds, but the farm machinery was found to be of the highest quality anywhere in the world.

Ghana currently spends around half a billion dollars of foreign exchange in rice importation alone with the price weighing heavily on inflationary trends as rice has effectively become the staple of every ethnic group in the country.