Wednesday, June 2, 2010


From: Joseph Ziem, Tamale
Rice growers in the Northern Region of Ghana have lauded government’s timely intervention with the release of Gh¢15 million to the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) to buy paddy rice from farmers in the three Northern Regions of the country.
About a fortnight ago, 5,009 farmers in the region and their counterparts in the two Upper Regions (Upper West and Upper East) who cultivated various cereal crops most especially rice complained of lack of market for their produce.
The SOS call was made by the farmers considering the fact they were moving into another farming season when rice they harvested in 2009 had still not been sold out for cash to enable them farm again. Almost all of them feigned interest to be engaged again this year. Even farmers, who could not participate last year in the farming under the pilot programme of government’s Block Farming Project and planned to take part this year, became discouraged by the lack of market for previous farmers.
An estimated 89,212.5 bags of rice from 3,965 hectares were harvested during the 2009 farming season in the Northern Region alone. Before harvesting the rice, government promised to buy a bag of rice each for Gh¢27.00 but that the farmers even complained.
Eric Osei Owusu, Chief Executive Officer of the NAFCO in a recent facility visit to the region disclosed to newsmen that the company out of its expectation to buy 200,000 bags of paddy rice has so far bought about 15,000 from rice growers in the region which is ready for milling or processing.
He explained that the project targeted at supplying government institutions like schools, hospitals and security agencies like the prisons with locally manufactured rice to promote local rice consumption in the country.
According him, the company engaged the services of local agents who buy the rice from farmers in the hinterlands at GH¢27.00 and in turn sell to NAFCO at Gh¢ 35.00. He disclosed that apart from the rice, the company was also purchasing beans and maize.
Abdulai Iddrisu Adama, Regional Agric Engineer at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture also disclosed that, MOFA in collaboration with NAFCO was revamping the Tamale Nasia Rice Factory to mill the paddy rice for consumption.
Alhaji Yakubu Ayana, a principal agent who had been contracted by NAFCO to purchase the rice commended government for its timely intervention. He said the move was a sigh of relief to farmers who had lately complained that there was no ready market for their farm produce.
The government’s Block Farming Project initiated in 2009 was aimed at improving agriculture and farming as an innovative business that could reduce the unemployment situation in the country if people especially the youth get interested in farming.
The project involves targeting large tracks of arable land in blocks for the production of commodities which have comparative advantage in specific areas and locations.

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