The Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group of Companies (JGC), Dr. Joseph Siaw Agyepong, has called on the government of the Republic of Ghana to put in place measures to support local rice production.
He said government can create demand by reducing importation of rice thereby helping local producers get good market for their produce
Dr. Agyepong was speaking at a two-day Ghana Food Security Conference under the theme “Enhancing Food Security: The role of Ghanaian Scientists” at Gomoa Fetteh in the Central Region on May 19, 2023.
He encouraged the stakeholders particularly rice farmers and scientists not to despair because there are no adequate policies to support the initiative but rather be hopeful that when there is adequate rice production, the policies will change to favour local producers.
Dr. Agyepong paid glowing tribute to Nigeria for taking the initiative to ban rice importation, He also lauded them for their ability to feed their teeming population.
“In 2019, rice accounted for more than 14% of crops grown by Nigerian households,” Dr. Agyepong said.
He said Nigeria after banning the importation of rice has made remarkable progress in rice production over the previous decade surpassing Egypt with a yearly production of 5.8 metric tonnes of rice.
“Nigeria as a country is gradually becoming a rice super power,” Dr. Agyepong said adding, with the advent of Jospong’s support, we expect government to minimize rice importation or stop it entirely
The Chief Executive Officer of the Asian African Consortium (AAC), A subsidiary of Jospong Group, Mrs. Adelaide Araba Siaw Agyepong explained that science, research and development have traditionally been the drivers of innovation and productivity, and are central to everything done in the world.
According to her, if immediate measures to enhance food production are not undertaken, the cost of Africa’s yearly food import might rise from $50 billion to US$110 billion by 2030.
“When there is food crisis, the poor suffer the most since they are unable to obtain food due to price hikes” she noted.
She said this motivated the Jospong Group of Companies and the AAC in partnership with the CSIR to perceive the need to bridge Ghana’s food security gaps.
In a speech read on his behalf by Apostle Alexander Kumi-Larbi, the Chairman of the Church of Pentecost, Apostle Eric Nyamekye said the theme for the conference which is “Enhancing Food Security: The Role of Ghanaian Scientists“ is crucial in the nation’s development discourse, especially at a time when the economy is distressed.
“While we await IMF assistance, it is critical that steps be taken locally to strengthen our country’s economic issues.”
He said, the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, states that around 1.5 million Ghanaians experience food insecurity, with undernutrition, over nutrition, and micronutrient deficiencies persisting across all life stages. Poverty, climate change, rapid urbanisation and population expansion, and poor infrastructure have all been recognised as threats to food security in Ghana.
Again, he said, based on the 1996 World Food Summit, food security is defined as when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
“It is, therefore, appropriate to remind ourselves of the four main dimensions of food security which include physical food availability, economic and physical access to food, food utilization and a combination of all the three listed,” he said.
The Director General of the Council for Industrial Research (CSIR) Prof. Paul Bosu said the Council has waited for a long time for such an opportunity to collaborate with industry to promote food security.
He said the Council was ready to partner Jospong in rice production and other commodities.
Exerts from the Conference