Rice production in the Ashanti Region has witnessed a significant increase in the last four years. Official figures from the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) indicate production increased from 1.2 tonnes in 2009 to 5.4 tonnes per hectare in 2012.
This follows the introduction of a new technology which has changed the processes involved in the cultivation and management of rice in the region.
The project, dubbed, "Sustainable Development of Rain- Fed Lowland Rice Production," involves the planting of the rice in rows, the use of salt, egg and water to separate good paddy rice from bad ones before nursing them, as well ' as proper farm management.
With the use of simple and locally manufactured technology like push weeders and bio char, the farmers are taught how to plant their seeds.
JICA's schedule officer of the project in the Ashanti Region, Mr Samuel Terkpor, said the project which was a collaboration between JICA and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), was initiated in July, 2009 due to technical co-operation between the two institutions for five years (2009- 2014).
He said the project which was aimed at increasing rice production in the country was being piloted in five districts in the Ashanti and Northern regions. The five districts in the Ashanti Region are: Asante Akim Central,Asante Akim North,Atwima Mponua,Adansi South and the Ahafo AnoSouth.
Mr Terkpor disclosed this at a farmers' durbar at Odumase in the Asante Akim Central Municipality in the Ashanti Region.
The durbar was aimed at promoting local rice cultivation using the success story of the project as a yardstick.
The occasion was also used to introduce the technology to other interested farmers and exhibit equipment used for the project, as well as food products made from the rice.
Mr Terkpor said although the project was supposed to end next year, its extension had been looked at due to its success.He added that the production and income of farmers could improve significantly if more farmers embraced the technology, and challenged the farmers to avail themselves of the opportunity.
Currently, the project has been extended to 27 communities in the Asante Akim Central and Asante Akim North districts with a total of 167 farmers directly involved, while an additional 109 farmers are benefitting indirectly.
He noted that the technology did not require any huge machinery but hoes, cutlasses and other simple farming equipment and, therefore, encouraged all farmers to take advantage of it to improve their lives.
Mr Terkpor, however, bemoaned the rate at which galamsey operators had taken over most farmlands and appealed to the traditional rulers and land owners to make landavailable to farmers.
The Project Coordinator at the Asante Akim Central Municipality Office of MOFA,Mr Samuel Ampofo, said rice was a staple food in Ghana which when produced on a large scale would go a long way to ensure food security.
He noted that nearly 80 per cent of rice produced in Ghana was cultivated in lowland conditions by small-scale farmers, so very little was harvested.
It is against this background that the Government of Ghana, in collaboration with the Japanese Government initiated the project to provide technical and technological support to such farmers to increase their production.
He said the project, which started in two communities with two farmers groups now had 37 groups, adding that the project had improved the yield of beneficiary farmers who hitherto were producing very little after cultivating acres of land.
Mr Michael Opoku-Nkansah, the Asante Akim Central Municipal Coordinating Director, pledged the assembly's commitment to addressing the numerous challenges facing farmers in the municipality.
Source: Daily Graphic