Lack of certified seeds said to be hampering rice production
He suggested that the Government and stakeholders such as the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research collaborated in addressing the issue of making certified rice seeds available to all rice farmers across the country.
Torgbui Azadagli, who was speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview, in Ho on the sideline of the close-up workshop of the Agribusiness Systems International (ASI) Ghana Commercialisation of Rice Project (G-CORP), said the use of uncertified seeds also led to low crop yields.
He explained that some farmers in the Volta Region who had access to certified rice seeds were recording very impressive yields; however, a majority who had no access to it had no option than to grow uncertified varieties of the crops.
He said when farmers grew uncertified varieties, the grains matured at different periods, would had different lengths, shapes and sizes; hence making their harvesting, processing and packaging by rice millers very cumbersome.
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) provided funding and technical support for the three-and-a- half- year G-CORP project.
The project, which was aimed at increasing the productivity and incomes of 4,000 smallholder farmers in the Volta Region, ended successfully with expected results.
The close-up workshop was attended by beneficiary farmer groups, aggregators, rice millers, and other stakeholders from the private and public sectors, as well as representatives from AGRA.
The close-out workshop reflected on the projects’ achievements, which includedbuilding the business and management capacity of 20 aggregators to extend improved services to over 4,700 smallholder farmers.
He said the country’s rice production generated a milling output of 204,030 tonnes (62 per cent), leaving a demand gap of 29,000 tonnes, which was being filled with imports, hence the need to intensify its production.
On the opportunity for rice production in the Volta Region, Torgbui Azadagli said that the Region could boast of over 20,000 hectares of available land for upland rice production and more than 40,000 ha (281 valleys) for low land rice production, which according to him, could all be harnessed for the nation’s socio-economic development.
He said the Region was blessed with abundant water resources favourable for rice production.
The Municipal Agriculture Director said poor and timely land preparation as a result of inadequate machinery and difficulty in weed control were also hampering rice production in the Region.
He said the Region had 43,396 rice farmers, stating that some of them used broadcasting methods in the propagation of rice; which often resulted in incorrect spacing and low plant population leading to low yield.
Torgbui Azadagli said some of the big commercial firms that were into rice production in the Region included Brazilian Agro, Wienco, Weta Irrigation and Aveyime Irrigation.
He said rice production in the Region had taken an increased dimension in relation to the shift in taste of the urban population and consumer habits.
He said some of the varieties of rice being grown in the Region were brown rice, Togo Marshal, Sikamo and CSIR AGRA.
He said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture provided regular extension services to all the farmers.
A lady rice farmer from Worawora and a beneficiary of the G-CORP, who spoke to the GNA on the condition of anonymity, lauded ASI for increasing their efficiency, productivity and revenues through the project.
She said as the G-CORP project was due for close-up, their major challenge was how to obtain certified seeds for cropping.
She, therefore, appealed to the Government to go to their aid with certified seeds.