Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has commended the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) for its commitment to the development of Ghana and Africa’s agriculture.
The former President who is also the founder of The John A. Kufuor Foundation, described AGRA as an “instrumental partner with whom we share common goals and aspirations.”
Mr Kufuor made the comments when leadership of AGRA paid a courtesy call on him recently at his residence to brief him on AGRA's work in Ghana. The “Public - Private Partnership for Competitive and Inclusive Rice Value Chain Development: Planting for Food and Jobs - Rice Chapter” is one of several joint initiatives by the two institutions.
The John A. Kufuor Foundation and AGRA have been rolling out a number of initiatives to accelerate growth of Ghana’s agricultural sector, make the country less dependent on food imports, and reduce poverty among farmers.
The Public-Private-Partnership for Competitive and Inclusive Rice Value Chain Development: Planting for Food and Jobs - Rice Chapter project is aimed at promoting efficient strategies and policies that will make Ghana self-sufficient in rice production, so the sector provides the associated jobs and economic growth.
Further extolling the role of AGRA in the country’s agricultural space, Mr Kufuor expressed “sincere appreciation to the entire AGRA outfit for their tireless commitment to transforming the agricultural sector across the whole African continent.”
For him, African-led organisations had key roles to play in championing agriculture on the continent, saying “We envisage several areas of collaboration in the coming future to totally transform our dear continent.”
He added, “Our partnership with AGRA is primarily focused on achieving import substitution through creating a self-sufficient rice sector that can compete favorably with the imports… If we get our strategies right, we could become a net exporter of rice very soon.
On what the future holds, former President Kufuor said his Foundation and AGRA would continue to work towards building partnerships with private institutions so more capital can be made available to players within the rice value chain.
“Both organisations believe immensely in the power of partnerships. We have continually built a broad coalition of partners at different levels of the value chain. A key partner that needs to be brought on board is the financial intermediaries to make available funding for the sector… I believe both the Foundation and AGRA can develop a credible strategy in furtherance of increasing access to finance for farmers,” he noted.
Ghana spends an average of US$600 million annually importing rice. In fact, in 2015, it was US$1.2 billion. That figure is close to the entire foreign exchange Ghana earns annually from its most important cash crop, cocoa.
Rice imports are also destroying local jobs within the sector. But the AGRA–John A. Kufuor Foundation project is helping turn the untenable situation around.
The project has successfully reorganised players in the rice sector into a more formidable national association under the umbrella of the Ghana Rice Interprofessional Body, to be able to advocate and lobby on behalf of rice farmers and other value chain actors.
Chapters of the association have been established across the 16 regions of the country which have become efficient channels for the distribution of inputs and subsidies to farmers.