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Business News of Saturday, 21 December 2019

Source: ghanaiantimes.com.gh

JAK Foundation endorses locally produced rice


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The John Agyekum Kufuor (JAK) Foundation and its other partners have jointly endorsed President Akufo-Addo’s directive for all state institutions to procure rice produced in the country with effect from next year.

According to the partners, including, the Ghana Rice Inter Professional Body (GRIB) and Hopeline Institute, the directive which comes after years of collaboration mainly through policy and advocacy for reforms in the rice sector was not only a bold step, but also an initiative at ensuring achieving self-sufficiency in rice production by 2023.

Addressing a news conference in Accra yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the JAK Foundation, Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah said it fully supported the government’s commitment towards creating a viable local rice sector where the country would become self-sufficient.

“The President’s directive comes at a very opportune time when local producers, together with government and importers are working out modalities for import substitution in the rice sector,” he said.

He said while the directive was welcoming and timely, the foundation and its partners would as a matter of urgency, work out strategies that would ensure improvement in service delivery by developing a monitoring mechanism to ensure that public institutions adhered to the directive.

This according to him was to ensure that, this time around, Ghanaians derived the benefit from such directives, stressing that “We all remember that about four years ago our former President, John Mahama issued a similar directive asking all state institutions to procure shoes and sandals from the Kumasi Shoe Factory but these institutions failed to comply with the directive.”

Prof. Baffuor-Agyeman said it was important that the fight was not left in the hands of the President alone since that could stifle the desire to ensure that the country became self-sufficient in rice production.

“We shall also, in collaboration with other partners, evolve effective and institutionalised monitoring and evaluation frameworks/strategies for monitoring and/or evaluating the compliance with the President’s directive,” he emphasised.

He noted that the foundation was in the process of engaging further with other state institutions to develop measures that would encourage nationwide adoption of Ghana rice as well as support the entire value chain actors to forge closer ties to address the challenges of the rice sector.

Prof. Baffour-Agyeman explained that the country would be able to cut down on the over $1.5billion annual import of rice and save the country lots of hard earned foreign currency for other development issues.

The Convener of GRIB, Nana Yaw Adu Poku on his part assured that the country had the capacity to produce rice to feed the country and even export the surplus to other countries.

He said drawing on the Nigerian success story which Ghanaian experts were largely part of, GRIB would support the government’s initiative and ensure that the target of 2023 was attained.

Nana Poku said one of the challenges identified with rice production following the implementation of the Planting of Food and Jobs was the inadequacy of storage facilities.

In this direction, he said with the support of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, GRIB had imported more silos to enable farmers to store all the quantity of rice to be produced going forward.

He therefore appealed to the media to come onboard and support the new wave of interest in Ghana produced rice to ensure that the country reduced its rice import to the barest minimum.

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