‘Work On Africa’s Rice Self-Sufficiency’

Njack Kane

CHIEF EXECUTIVE Officer (CEO) of Intervalle Geneve SA, Njack Kane, has
urged Ghana and other sub-Saharan African nations to work to attain rice
self-sufficiency.

Mr. Kane, a Senegalese and one of Africa’s largest rice importers, made
the call recently at Aburi in the Eastern Region in an interview with DAILY
GUIDE
on the sidelines of a meeting organised by the John Agyekum
Kufuor (JAK) Foundation.

The meeting brought together key stakeholders – including the Ghana Rice
Inter-Professional Body (GRIB), ADB, MoFA, the School Feeding Programme – from
across Ghana to deliberate on how best to build a sustainable value chain in
the nation’s rice sector through policy and advocacy.

Ghana has envisaged attaining rice self-sufficiency by 2023 as indicated
by the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto.

The minister projected that domestic rice production would increase from
the current 456,000 metric tonnes of milled rice and reach self-sufficiency by
producing 1,665,000 metric tonnes by 2023.

Various initiatives being undertaken by government are anticipated to
increase production to address current deficit level of 656,000 metric tonnes
to a surplus of 365,230 metric tonnes in 2023.

But Mr. Kane said African governments should move beyond the perennial
talk shows to practical action.

He reminded leaders on the continent that the shortage of rice in the
past have led to toppling of some governments specifically in Liberia and
Sierra Leone and that if care was not taken, a similar thing could happen
again.

‘Irrigation Needed’

According to
him, “We all know in order to make it happen, we need irrigation scheme; you
cannot depend on rain especially in the climate change era. So it has to be
irrigation.”

Noting that
the cost of irrigation was too high, he said no private sector person could
single-handedly do that.

Partnership

According to
him, “Government cannot grow rice; government cannot sell rice. Government has
to establish the enabling environment and provide infrastructure; then clear
visibility for long-term investors – both national and international to come
massively into the financial scheme. Unless this happen, we will keep talking;
we will keep making promises.”

He said in
West Africa it was only Ghana and two other nations that have taken the right
measure to achieve self-sufficiency.

But he noted
that it should not only be the Ghanaian government’s decision to achieve rice
self-sufficiency but also all stakeholders including civil society and private
sector.

He called
for the protection of the rice market in West Africa and Ghana and the creation
of an internal competition.

Coordinator of the Ghana Rice Project, Ebo Graham, urged public private partnership (PPP) to promote and sustain rice production on the continent.

BY Melvin Tarlue

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