The Central Region recorded an increase in rice production from 12,308 metric tonnes in 2020 to 16,246 metric tonnes in 2021.
The 32 per cent increase was largely driven by prudent rice support interventions instituted by the Central Regional Office of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), in collaboration with key stakeholders.
Dr Peter Omega, the Regional Director of MoFA, who announced this at a stakeholders’ forum in Cape Coast, was optimistic that the region would soon witness an upturn in rice production to sustain the sector.
He said about 378,259 of the agricultural value-chain actors were males with 318,385 females, out of the nearly three million inhabitants in the region, occupying a land area of 9,830kmsq.
The total cropped area for rice plantation has risen from 1,907 in 2017 to 4,817 in 2021, he said, while yields per hectare grew from 1.7 metric tonnes in 2017 to 3.37 metric tonnes in 2021.
Dr Omega attributed the accomplishment to the timely distribution of millions of improved rice seeds produced by the Assin Akropong and Okyereko Water Users Association, under the Rice Value Chain Improvement Project (RVCIP) being implemented in the region.
The RVCIP, valued at eight million dollars, is expected to change the fortunes of smallholder rice farmers and boost the economic fortunes of the region.
It was funded by the Korea International Cooperation (KOICA) and Dankook Institute for International Cooperation (DICA).
Therewithal, MoFA has also launched a five-year rice development plan to substantially increase rice production for local consumption and reduce the estimated 400 million dollars on rice imports annually.
Dr Omega said the plan was to sustain rigorous rice mechanisation to step up cultivation, processing and consumption of locally produced rice.
The major rice growing districts include the Gomoa East, Assin Central, Assin North, Assin South and Twifo Atti-Morkwa.
In tandem with regional strategy, Dr Omega said government was facilitating the establishment of modern rice mills with requisite equipment in some of those districts to enhance quality and consumer preference of the local brand.
Agricultural extension assistants are also being trained to provide technical services such as land development, water and farm management, rice cultivation techniques, and support system to rice farmers.
He urged the farmers to accept and apply good agronomic practices such as timely planting and transplanting, proper nursery bed preparation, timely fertilizer application, and right drainage systems to ensure increased production.
Mrs Justina Marigold Assan, the Central Regional Minister, donated some of the region’s rice to the stakeholders to have a taste of it to drive its demand and consumption.
She noted that the Central Region had the potential to improve on its production and expressed the commitment of the Soth Korean Government towards achieving the agenda.