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Business News of Thursday, 22 October 2015

Source: B&FT

Ecobank commits US$7m to rice, maize farming

Ecobank Ghana has committed US$7,000,000 to the production of rice, maize and soya beans in the savannah ecological zones of northern Ghana.

The initiative is expected to boost food production and improve the livelihood of farmers within the three northern regions.

Mr. Abdul Rahman Abdulai, Head of Small and Medium Enterprises Department, Ecobank Ghana, disclosed this to B&FT on the sideline the 5th Annual Northern Ghana Pre-harvest Agribusiness Forum in Tamale on the theme ‘Discovering opportunities for expansion’.

Maize is Ghana’s number-one staple crop, followed by rice; and domestic demand for both is growing. According to a study commissioned by the Millennium Challenge Account Ghana Programme, it is estimated that between 2010 and 2015 rice demand is projected to grow at a compound annual growth of 11.8 percent and maize at 2.6 percent.

However, the country is not self-sufficient in either of its two most important staple crops, as Ghana has experienced average shortfalls in domestic maize supplies of 12 percent and domestic rice supplies of 69 percent in recent years, the report said.

The study found that maize, soya and rice production are currently dominated by smallholder farmers who rely on rain-fed conditions, with limited use of improved seeds, fertiliser, mechanisation, and post-harvest facilities. As a result, average yields in Ghana are well below attainable levels and post-harvest losses are high

Mr. Abdulai said Agriculture contributes a greater percentage of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and therefore 12 percent of the bank’s loan goes to support the Agricultural sector.

He urged farmers and other actors in the agribusiness industry to deepen their linkages to improve agricultural production in the country.