Mr Humado said rice production was the number one agricultural activity in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions and that some challenges and effects of the Structural Adjustment Programme and the issues of cost recovery programme led to the decline.
Mr Humado gave the advice in Tamale on Thursday at a rice stakeholders’ forum, which brought together experts and stakeholders in the rice production sector to deliberate and draw synergies on how to address challenges in the sector.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in collaboration with the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), organised the two-day forum expected to discuss critical areas of rice production in northern Ghana, prospects, challenges and the way forward.
Other topics for discussion include; Enhancing Rice Production: The Role of the Seed Industry, Improved Agronomic Practices and Safe Use of Agro-chemicals in the Rice Industry, Commodity Aggregation and Off-taker Concept, Processing and Marketing of Local Rice in Ghana, Issues to Consider and Strengthening the Rice Value Chain Development.
Mr Humado said; “Rice production was a craze in the three northern regions in the past and at dawn one could hear the sounds of tractors going to farms while several fields were put under rice cultivation, but this is not the case today”.
He said the improvement in the agriculture sector was captured in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Manifesto and gave the assurance that everything would be done to ensure that as part of the Better Ghana Agenda, the NDC Government fulfilled its campaign promise to farmers.
Dr Emmanuel Abeereinga, a representative of SADA, called on organisations working with farmers to revise their programmes to ensure that farmer groups benefitted from them and urged stakeholders to look at issues of post-harvest losses and adapt to the right and certified seeds.
He said there was the need for SADA to be furnished with the right type of strategy so that SADA would help to improve the rice sector.
Mr Malex Alebikiya, Executive Director of Association of Church-based Development, who chaired the forum, observed that rice was the most cereal that played a vital role in the northern agriculture economy and stressed the importance of the need to assist in resurrecting the sector.
He called for a national marshal plan and strategy on rice production to ensure that the country, especially the three northern regions, regained its past glory in rice production to help address poverty.