Business News of Monday, 2 March 2015
Source: Graphic Online
The government has secured a $145-million credit facility from the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help transform the agricultural sector into a vibrant commercial sector.
The facility is for the implementation of the Ghana Commercial Agricultural Project (GCAP) in the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) zone and parts of the Volta, Greater Accra and Eastern regions.
The GCAP is to support farmers in the SADA zone to cultivate maize, rice and soya, while those in the Accra Plains and Eastern and Volta regions will be supported to go into vegetable, fruit, maize and rice production.
To ensure the success of the programme, 10,000 hectares best suited for the development of improved rain-fed agriculture has been identified and developed in the Nasia-Nabogo Valley in the Northern Region for rice production.
The Project Coordinator of GCAP, Mr Alarbi Bortey, made this known at an investor conference on the Nasia-Nabogo rice production in Tamale.
He said the development of improved rain-fed agriculture for rice production in the Nasia-Nabogo Valley also formed part of efforts by the government to make the country rice sufficient and help cut down on rice importation.
He stated that investors who wished to cultivate rice in the Nasia-Nabogo Valley would be supported through a competitive matching grant scheme based on a set of eligibility criteria.
He said the project would provide 80 per cent of the funding through the matching grant, while the investor was required to provide 20 per cent.
The project, he said, would also support investors with the construction of water retention structures to ensure availability of water throughout the cropping season and added that investors would be required to integrate smallholder farmers into the input, output and farm equipment services in a continual basis for at least five years.
Mr Bortey said the land for the project was devoid of litigation, as it was acquired from the rightful landowners and traditional authorities in the area.
He said the overall objective of the project, which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), was to help remove binding constraints to commercial agriculture in the country, with special focus on rice, maize and soya.
In an address read on his behalf, the Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna, said Ghana spent more than $450 million annually on rice importation to meet local demand.
He said it was the expectation of the government that by the end of the project, the country would realise an increase in rice production that would enable Ghana to further cut back on rice importation.