Rice importation will cease — Jospong
The Chairman of the Jospong Group of Companies, Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, has vowed that with the advent of the Jospong Group Rice Project, the importation of rice into the country will be minimised if not stopped.
That, he said, was because wherever the Jospong Group of Companies (JGC) detected a problem, it was always ready to confront and solve it.
“Where we see a problem we confront and solve it and with this project that we have begun, the importation of rice must stop," he said.
Dr Agyepong said this at a two-day Food Security Conference 2023 held at Gomoa Fetteh in the Central Region and organised by the JGC, in collaboration with the Asian African Consortium (AAC) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
It was on the theme: “Enhancing Food Security: The role of Ghanaian scientists," and brought together scientists, researchers, government officials and other stakeholders in the rice and agricultural industry.
The conference was aimed, among other things, at establishing inter-institutional technical teams with clear roles and responsibilities to drive the production of selected commodities such as rice, jute, maize, soya beans, tomatoes and onions, and establish timelines for deliverables.
Dr Agyepong encouraged the stakeholders, particularly the rice farmers and scientists, not to despair in the absence of adequate policies to support the initiative.
He rather urged them to be hopeful that when "fruits begin to yield," policies will change to favour them, adding; "Whether policy is supporting or not, never be discouraged.”
He also challenged the government not to fear banning the importation of rice for fear that the ordinary Ghanaian would go hungry.
Dr Agyepong urged the government to rather be hopeful that the Ghanaian farmer in the face of a ban would be challenged and empowered to produce quality rice for the populace.
The Director-General of CSIR, Paul P. Bosu, said Africa and Ghana, in particular, for varied reasons, had not fully realised the benefits of the Green Revolution in spite of its widely acclaimed success in Asian and Latin American countries.
He, however, noted that it was never too late to leverage modern technologies to introduce high-yielding varieties of rice, wheat and other food crops, to greatly increase production and consequently make the country and the continent as a whole food secure.
“In addition to the high-yielding variety increases in the area under cultivation, multiple cropping per year; increased fertilisation of crops, irrigation technologies and general improvement of agricultural machinery led to increased food crop production,” he added.
He, therefore, urged scientists, researchers and ordinary Ghanaians to support the government to achieve its objective of feeding the population and earn more foreign exchange.
The CEO of the AAC, Adelaide Siaw Agyepong, who is leading the project, noted that science, research and development had traditionally been the drivers of innovation and productivity and as such were central to everything done in the world.
She stated that if immediate measures to enhance food production were not taken, the cost of Africa's yearly food import might rise from $50 billion to $110 billion 2030.
"When there is food crisis, the poor suffer the most since they are unable to obtain food due to price hikes.
So in this regard, the JGC and AAC, in partnership with the CSIR, perceive the need to bridge Ghana’s food security concerns,” she stated.
The outgoing General Secretary of the Church of Pentecost, Apostle Alexander Nana Yaw Kumi-Larbi, who spoke on behalf of the Chairman of the Church of Pentecost, noted that the initiative had come at the right time to help Ghana achieve the Sustainable Development Goal Two, which is: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”
The church commended the CSIR, whose key mandate is to drive national development and global competitiveness in industry through scientific and technological research, for partnering the Jospong Group.
“Beyond this conference I want to challenge this gathering to take steps to help us produce enough food to feed ourselves as Ghanaians and even export some,” Apostle Kumi-Larbi said.