Ghana: Rice Farmers Advocate Cultivation of New Varieties

Dawhenya — Rice farmer groups in the Greater Accra and Volta regions are advocating the cultivation of new varieties of rice to enable access to improved rice seeds.

The rice farmer groups are the Dawhenya Rice Irrigation project, Kpong Irrigation Scheme, Aveyime Rice project and Ashaiman rice irrigation project.

The call by the groups followed the development of 12 rice varieties including Jasmine-85, CRI-Enapa, CRI-Dartey, CRI-Amankwatia, CRI-Agyapa, CRI-Korea Mo, Legon-1, CRI-Onuapa, CRI-AgraRice, CRI-Kantinka, ISRIZ-6 and ISRIZ-7 by the Crop Research Institute of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in collaboration with the Korea Programme for International Cooperation in Agricultural Technology (KOPIA).

Representatives of the groups made the call during a tour of the demonstration fields for the 12 new rice varieties at Dawhenya near Tema.

Richard Martey Adler, Chairman of Dawhenya Local Rice Farmers, said the new varieties could help to make a hub for rice production due to its unique characteristics that ensured high yield and grain quality.

Citing CRI-Agyapa as a key example, he noted that, the new varieties had effective resistance to diseases, and provided the kind of grain quality to meet the preference of Ghanaian consumers.

As a country aiming to significantly reduce rice importation, he stated that, the new varieties were critical in ensuring Ghana achieves rice sufficiency within the next five years.

Joseph Kofi Akpafu, Executive Member of Water Users Association which operate at the Kpong Irrigation Scheme, said the new varieties were a relief to rice farmers who were burdened with accessing varieties of improved rice seeds.

He stated that, some rice farmers were at risk of losing their business due to disease attack and pest infestation.

"These new varieties will inure to the benefits of farmers because we are assured of quality rice grains that is in demand and gives us an opportunity to expand production to meet the demand," he added.

Samuel Debrah, Project Manager of Aveyime Irrigation Scheme, said the new varieties would help to address limited rice seed varieties in Ghana, and allow farmers to cultivate various rice varieties depending on the nature of farmland.

He explained that, the ready-made information about the rice varieties would also enable farmers to make informed decisions, and serve as advice to farmers on rice cultivation

Catherine Norvi Sogbadzic, Rice Aggregator and Processor at Akuse, said the new varieties were easy to mill, adding that the growing demand for it could serve as the catalyst to reduce rice importation.

On his part, Dr Maxwell Darko Asante, Deputy Director, CSIR-Crop Research Institute, said the new varieties had qualities such as early maturing, high yielding, good grain quality and aroma as preferred by most Ghanaian rice consumers.

Also, he noted that, the new rice varieties were disease and pest resistant and had short maturity period of 105 to 115 days.

Dr Kim Choong-Hoe, Director of KOPIA Ghana Centre, said, the centre was working towards providing 5,200 tonnes of improved rice seeds to Ghanaian farmers to enhance rice cultivation.

He noted that, the centre had acquired about 100 hectares of farmland to cultivate the rice seeds of the new varieties.

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