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Big Boost For Rice Sector

2007-08-08 17:18:14
This article has been read 799 times.

The Government and the French Agency for International Development on Wednesday signed two loan agreements totalling 13.8 million Euros to support the country's ailing rice sector.

The credit consists of 12.5 million Euros soft loan for investments, field activities and support for the Ghana Rice Inter-professional Body (GRIB) and additional grant of 1.3 million Euros for technical assistance to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA). Professor George Gyan-Baffour, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, signed the two agreements on behalf of Ghana while Ms Caroline Piquet, Acting Resident Manager of the French Agency for International Development initialled for her country.

A statement issued by the MFEP said the Government would provide 930,000 Euros being its contribution to the training cost of MOFA staff, 790,000 Euros being farmers' payment to the investments and the cost of the credit while financial institutions, essentially the Rural Banks, were to provide about 1.5 million euros in credit.

The agreements are aimed at developing lowland rice production in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Volta regions.

It said about 6,500 hectares of lowland areas would be developed with water control infrastructure and technical support to the farmers. It said the project would help strengthen professional organizations, targeting the different levels of the commodity chain as well as provide some support to existing financial institutions in order to facilitate access to credit by the various stakeholders. The statement also said the MOFA would be in charge of the project at all levels, including national, regional, districts as well as the planning and monitoring of activities.

It said MOFA would also establish contract with different partners such as non-governmental organisation, micro-finance institutions and the non-formal education Services to implement its activities. Mr Ernest Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture and Mr Pierre Jacquemot, French Ambassador to Ghana, witnessed the ceremony. Agriculturists say Ghana has great potential to expand its present average rice production area of 89,700 hectares by 200 per cent if its vast area of inland valleys and swamps is fully exploited. They say the greatest potential lies in the interior Savannah zone which covers almost the whole of the northern half of the country, extending over nearly 9.32 million hectares.

Source: ghanaweb

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