The Governments of Ghana and South Korea have signed a memorandum of understanding to improve rice production and rice value chain activities in four districts in the Central Region.
The agreement is geared towards enhancing rice production and productivity through the selection of good plant varieties, seed distribution, training, improved cultivation techniques and agricultural machinery support.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, and the Deputy Country Director of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Ms Jeongyi Choi, signed for their respective governments.
By the agreement, South Korea will support rice production in the Assin North Municipality and the Assin South, Twifo-Atti-Morkwa and Gomoa East districts with a grant of $8 million (GH¢43.2 million).
The deliverables under the project include improving capacity and rice seed development, providing agricultural machinery and equipment and the construction of a rice milling plant and agricultural equipment storage facility all within the period from 2019 to 2023.
Giving the background to the project, the Director of Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr Seth Dumoga, said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) submitted a proposal to the KOICA in 2017 requesting the Korean government’s support to improve the rice value chain in the country.
“Today’s signing of the MoU is giving legitimacy to the request and to initiate projects towards implementing the outcomes of the agreement,” he said.
In a brief statement before the signing, Ms Choi explained that KOICA’s support was to complement efforts the government was making to improve rice production, particularly its value chain processes.
“Interventions will be designed to focus on ex-farm activities to improve production, harvesting, branding and marketing of rice,” she said.
For his part, the South Korea Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Sungsoo Kim, said South Korea was pleased to draw on its centuries-old experience and expertise in producing rice to assist Ghana modernise and improve its rice production capability.
“This gesture of the Korean government is another testament to the deepening bilateral and diplomatic relations between our two countries,” Mr Kim said.
Dr Akoto said the signing of the MoU marked a significant moment in the working relationship between the two countries.
He said the agreement had come at an opportune time when Ghana was desirous of becoming self sufficient in rice production because rice had become a staple in the country.
He said it was the plan of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to reduce the 600 tonnes of imported rice consumed in the country annually by improving and enhancing the production of locally produced rice.