Boost for rice production: Asian African Consortium, UCC sign MoU
The Asian African Consortium (AAC), a subsidiary of the Jospong Group of Companies, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the University of Cape Coast (UCC) to undertake research to boost rice, maize and soya production in the country.
The objectives of the partnership are to identify common areas of collaboration to address the overall mandate of the parties, develop a plan for collaborative operations and detail the scope and principles of engagement between the parties, while aiming to achieve food efficiency in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the AAC, Adelaide Araba Siaw Agyepong, noted at the signing ceremony in Accra last Thursday that the agreement would facilitate ACC’s collaboration with the UCC research institutes across Ghana, deepen research and development for social change, as well as deal with challenges for economic growth and development.
She added that it would also facilitate the establishment of a research and development consortium comprising business, crop science, technology, agriculture engineering and chemical engineering as a standing committee to advise on the full value chain in rice, maize, soya and the production of other staples.
“Again, this arrangement will facilitate the establishment of a seedling centre for the commercial production of seedlings for sale to farmers,” she stated.
She emphasised that “the ACC’s integrated rice project is to make Ghana self-sufficient in rice production, resulting in significant economic benefit for the country”.
The AAC CEO noted that the partnership was crucial to increasing collaboration and boosting the economy.
Mrs Siaw Agyepong expressed the hope that the MoU would pave the way for other collaborations between the two institutions.
The Vice-Chancellor of the UCC, Prof. Johnson Nyarko Boampong, reiterated that the university had a specialised training for students to become entrepreneurs and self-sufficient, and to also create jobs for others.
“We also focus on empowering our students with competencies to succeed in life,” he added.
He noted that with Ghana’s abundant resources and arable land, it still imported food, which it could produce locally.
“It is very sad that Ghanaians have to import from other countries to feed ourselves, yet there are countries with no arable lands who have found ways to produce food locally and even export,” he said.
He stressed that the university was fully behind the project, noting that the UCC, in its small way of complementing efforts to curb importation, had acquired a 450-acre plot for agricultural purposes.
The Executive Chairman of Jospong Group, Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, noted that agriculture and research must go hand in hand to ensure that the country derived its full benefits.
He noted that rice was now a staple food in Ghana, and initiatives must be taken to produce quality and the needed quantity, adding that this could not be achieved without the academia.
He urged the university to ensure that it produced seedlings that could withstand local conditions, as well as producing good yields.
“We have the knowledge and resources to see this through.
Therefore, you have no excuse not to perform,” he said.
Last year, AAC entered into partnership with major rice industry players in Thailand and Ghana to develop an integrated rice farming project.
This move stemmed from the government’s decision to boost the economy through an import substitution effort.
A core team later visited Thailand for the Ghana-Thailand Business Conference in March 2023 with researchers from various universities in Ghana, as well as major players in the rice industry.
Last year, Ghana spent over GH¢6.8 billion (equivalent to $560 million at current market rates) importing rice, a grain that can be produced locally.
While total rice consumption stood at 1.4 million metric tonnes in 2022, imports worth $560 million accounted for 800,000 metric tonnes of the consumption figure, with domestic production catering for the remaining demand, according to data from IDH Sustainable Trade, a foundation headquartered in the Netherlands.
Similarly, according to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, between 2010 and 2020 the country’s rice imports hit a staggering $8 billion.