The Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) Project for Sustainable Development of Rainfed Lowland Rice Production has led to a boost in rice production in the Northern Region.
Mr William Boakye-Akyeampong, the Northern Regional Director of Agriculture, said comparisons between Project Farmers and Non-Project Farmers confirms the effectiveness of the project.
He said while project farmers were producing 2,693 kilogrammes of rice per hectare (kg/ha) the non-project farmers had 1,228kg/ha.
He said the project has enhanced and brought about notable improvement in the rice value-chain in the region and led to improvement in farmer’s income and the standards of living of beneficiary households.
Mr Boakye-Akyeamlong said this when Mr KOJI Makino, the JICA Country Representative to Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, paid a courtesy call on him, as part of his three-day tour of JICA funded projects in the Region.
The project, which is being implemented by JICA in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, is a transfer of technology involving land management, extension of high yielding varieties and good quality seeds, and appropriate soil management and fertilizer application.
Phase one of the project started in the Northern and Ashanti Regions from July, 2009 to December, 2014, which achieved significant increase in paddy rice production by the target farmers, which led to an increase in their profit margin.
Phase one of the project also developed the Rice Extension Guidelines for District Agricultural Departments to disseminate techniques to the farmers.
Based on this, the Government of Ghana asked the Japanese Government to assist in the implementation of the second phase of the project, which spans May, 2016 to April, 2021.
The implementing districts in the Northern Region include Tamale, East Gonja, West Mamprusi and Sagnerigu.
That of Ashanti Region are Asante Akim North, Asante Akim Central, ATWIMA MPONUA, AHAFO ANO North and Adansi South.
The Northern Regional Agriculture Director said rice had become one of the major food staple crop in the country due to population growth and urbanisation.
He called for the scaling up of the project to cover the entire nation, in order to make Ghana self-reliant in rice production.
Mr Boakye-Akyeampong said Ghana depended largely on imported rice to make for the deficit in domestic supply and it is vital to increase rice production to ensure food security.
An elated Mr Makino, expressed his joy over the success story of the project.
He said currently, JICA, in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, was implementing cooperation in six sectors namely health, infrastructure, agriculture, education, governance and private sector development.
The Country Representative said these project areas were selected through a dialogue with the government of Ghana based on her development strategy and Japan’s cooperation strategy outlined in the Tokyo International Conference for African Development.
Mr Makino said JICA would continue to provide support for capacity development, policy and institutional capacity improvement as well as social and economic infrastructure, thereby stimulating sustained poverty reduction through equitable growth and human empowerment.
The tour took Mr Makino and his entourage to rice farms in the East Gonja District, where he interacted with project farmers.
Madam Mariam Haruna, a project farmer, expressed her gratitude to JICA for coming to their aid.
Madam Haruna said before enrolling onto the project, she was harvesting five bags of rice per hectare, but now she is harvesting 30 bags per hectare.
She urged JICA to extend the project to cover other farmers, in order to help boost rice production in the country.
Mr Yussif Ahmed, the Northern Regional Schedule Officer for the JICA Project, said the project was a success which would go a long way to help address poverty alleviation in the country.