Accra, Oct. 9, GNA - Africa Rice Advocacy Platform (ARAP) on Tuesday held a learning event to address ways of enhancing the production of rice on the continent as well as improving trade between member countries to help curb the increased importation of rice.
The ARAP, created in 2016, through the Competitive Africa Rice Initiative (CARI), in conjunction with J.A. Kuffour (JAK) Foundation, seeks to create a common platform for various Africa regional economic blocks, to promote trade and address challenges confronting the local rice market to boost production.
Speaking at the event, Professor Baffour Agyemang, the Chief Executive Officer of the JAK Foundation, enumerated the significance of creating the ARAP platform to address the various challenges confronting the African rice market and finding ways to resolving those challenges.
''The rice business in Ghana and Africa has been of key interest to the former President, and he sees the significance of supporting rice production across Africa.
''So the whole idea about promoting rice production is to counteract the increase in the importation of rice, which is certainly inimical to the economic health of the continent.
‘‘So it's important we seek areas of cooperation between East Africa and ECOWAS member countries to see how we can begin to harmonise our policies and approaches to solving this particular problem.
He further encouraged the creation of a business atmosphere between ECOWAS and other African countries to plan and execute strategies that will promote local rice production and reduce the importation of rice.
In his address, the Acting ARAP Chair, Mr. Julius Wambura, highlighted how most African rice markets share their challenges, which gives them the opportunity to build a platform to facilitate activities within the Africa rice markets.
''It's shameful for Africa to be importing rice to the tune of $4billion yearly while our farmers are complaining about not having enough market for their produce and this situation has to be corrected.
He further highlighted how to improve the standards of rice production to meet the general standardized requirements to facilitate easy trade among African countries.
Al- Hassan Imoro, a national rice desk officer at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said rice was one of the priority crops, and as such government remains poised to increase rice production, as various policies such as the Planting for Food and Jobs had been initiated to solve the challenges.