The Chief Executive Officer of Western Deedew Group Company Limited, producers of Western Deedew and Ashanti Royal brands of Ghana rice, Alfred Kwabena Amofa, wants the government to consider establishing an agricultural fund to help farmers with access to capital.
Speaking on the Citi Business Edition of the Citi Breakfast Show, Mr. Amofa lamented that rice farmers in Ghana are unable to meet the demand for their products due to financial constraints, a situation that impedes the country’s objective to reduce rice importation.
“The demand for Ghana rice has shot up. For instance, I got an order of 1,000 bags of my rice, but I could not readily make them available. The challenge is that we do not have enough capital to produce more of our products. We need a capital injection to solve the problem. If I am given GH¢ 5 million, I can expand to 1,000 acres of land and pay back by the end of the year, even with 20% interest. We have the market. We only need a capital injection to expand our businesses.”
He said the Planting for Food and Jobs program went a long way to help rice farmers until the government reduced the subsidies.
“[Planting for Food and Jobs] It helped us a bit because previously we struggled to get access to seeds, access to fertilizers as well. Initially, it was helping because the prices of the products were hugely subsidized. We however can’t say the same now since the government has reduced the subsidies.”
“Government’s allocation to the agricultural sector this year reduced by 7% to GHS 1.1 billion, while those in health and education went up by several margins. The disparities are too huge,” he added.
He suggested the introduction of an agricultural fund to support rice farmers with access to capital.
“Government could implement an agricultural fund for us. We have GETFund for the education sector, but do not have one for agriculture, yet, we call ourselves an agricultural country. We could allocate GHS 1 billion to the fund. We will see the results in two years.”
He posited that the government’s efforts at reviving the economy will be futile if it does not harness the agriculture sector.
“There should be a partnership between the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture. It is only agriculture that can restore the economy. We can do all we can, pump in money, etc, they are all artificial and will yield no results.” he noted.
Alfred K. Amofa, who holds M.A in Geography and Regional Planning from the University of Cape Coast, has experience in Marketing and Business Development as an Agricultural geographer with a specialization in Agriculture and climate.
He has practical knowledge in hydrology and the water resources of the country.
He formally headed the Business Development Department of Ahantaman Rural Bank Limited in the Western Region, where he is credited to have started the Agric-business unit of the bank with rice, cocoa, oil palm, and rubber farmers.
He has rich experience in the rice value chain and processes, and he’s the Chief Executive Officer of Western Deedew Group of Company Limited, producers of Western Deedew Rice and Ashanti Royal Aromatic Rice, which started in 2015.
He was once a Newscaster and Radio Show Host with Skyypower FM in Takoradi.
Currently, he has 300 acres of rice farms in the Ashanti and Bono Regions, where he also works with over 1,000 rice outgrowers.
He employs 52 permanent staff and 33 temporary staff in the Sekyere South District of the Ashanti Region.