The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Asian African Consortium (AAC), Mrs. Adelaide Araba Agyepong, has stressed the need for an all-hands-on-deck approach to make the President’s vision of boosting rice production in Ghana a reality.
She said the vision of ending rice importation in Ghana goes beyond Jospong Group of Companies (JGC).
“It is heartwarming to mention that anywhere that we have been stakeholders both in Ghana and Thailand have shown great support and enthusiasm for this project,” she expressed.
Mrs. Siaw Agyepong was speaking at the Thailand-Ghana Business Conference at the Grand Fortune Hotel, Bangkok Sunday, March 19, 2023.
The business conference, which brought together captains of Thailand rice industry and Ghana’s delegation to Thailand, led by the Executive Chairman of JGC, Dr. Joseph Siaw Agyepong, was on the theme: “Ghana-Thailand Business Forum; Partnership for Sustainable Rice Production in Ghana.”
Members of the Ghana delegation included experts and researchers in various fields drawn from the University of Ghana, Legon, University of Cape Coast, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Center for Scientific and Industrial Research-Crop Research Institute (CSIR-CRI), the Ghana Rice Farmers Association, the Competitive African Rice Platform, traditional rulers, metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) and private entrepreneurs with the focus on rice, fertilizer, maize, cassava and poultry as well as executives of the Jospong Group of Companies (JGC).
Mrs. Siaw Agyepong indicated that from the inception of this project (last year-2022) till now, a lot of efforts have been put in by her outfit towards actualising it.
“Key among the activities accomplished include the following: the setting up of the Asian African Consortium, as a company to drive the rice project; the engagement of high government officials including the President of the Republic of Ghana; meeting key sector ministers; key rice sector players and many others,” she pointed out.
Against this backdrop, Mrs. Siaw Agyepong said forging strategic partnerships was fundamental to the success of the project.
She also used the opportunity to announce that a fully-furnished National Rice Office for the project has been set up in Accra.
“Three zonal offices in Koforidua, Kumasi and Tamale for the southern, middle and northern belts respectively will also be ready soon for the project. Adequate and suitable lands have been acquired across the country and ready for cultivation,” she further revealed.
She was upbeat that the visit to Thailand will help concretise and firm up the plans for implementation “as soon as we get back to Ghana.”
Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture (in charge of Crops), Mr. Yaw Addo Frimpong, encouraged the investors in the Thailand rice value chain to come and invest in Ghana.
He said such an investment will mutually benefit both Thailand and Ghana, adding that the former has the experience and the technology to support Ghana to become self-sufficient in rice production.
According to him, as a leader in rice production, Thailand can support Ghana in its efforts to close its rice consumption demand gap, and also produce in excess to export to countries within the West African sub-region.
“Our [Ghana’s] consumption demand for rice is between 1.2 million and 1.4 million metric tonnes of rice per annum and with this huge gap, the Ghana government together with the small scale rice farmers are only able to do 600,000 metric tonnes,” he disclosed.
He explained that the business forum was a continuation of the rice project that was started some five months ago.
That process, he said, was initiated through the instrumentality of the Executive Chairman of the JGC, Dr. Siaw Agyepong.
Following the huge gap in the demand for the consumption of rice in Ghana, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo tasked Ghanaians to go at any length to ensure self-sufficiency of rice in the country, he said.
Mr. Addo Frimpong, therefore, commended the initiative by the private sector being spearheaded by the JGC to go into large-scale rice production in Ghana, adding that the government of Ghana has given its full support.
He went on to stress that this project will help fill the rice consumption gap in Ghana.
He was also particularly excited about the level of enthusiasm shown in the Ghana-Thailand rice project by stakeholders in Thailand.
“Apart from that, the interest that has been shown by all stakeholders in the rice industry in Thailand is quite remarkable,” Mr. Addo Frimpong said.
In a brief remark, the Executive Chairman of the JGC, Dr. Siaw Agyepong, added his voice to the call by the deputy minister to captains in the Thailand rice sector to come and invest in Ghana.
He stressed that Ghana was a peaceful and safe haven to do business, assuring them that their investments will be protected.
“I am inviting you to a prosperous country; a peaceful country; a leader in the West African Sub-region, and; a leader in the whole of Africa, especially in the area of peace and stability,” Dr. Siaw Agyepong assured.