Ghana is to benefit from United Kingdom’s investment in West Africa’s agriculture sector through increased trade and jobs.
A statement issued by the British High Commission and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday said the COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had exacerbated the challenges of energy, finance, and food security.
It said the UK, Ghana, ECOWAS and other partners were working together to ensure that Ghana produced more rice, facilitated trade, and reduced costs on the consumer.
Through the Africa Food Trade and Resilience programme, the UK Government, alongside strategic partners, was investing £450,000 to establish the ‘ECOWAS Rice Observatory’ (ERO) and its national chapter, known as the ‘Ghana Competitive Africa Rice Platform (CARP).’
The statement said this new public-private sector platform would identify and spur reforms to increase investment into the ECOWAS rice value-chain.
This support for Ghana and other ECOWAS countries would reduce the £2.6 billion annual cost of importing rice to West Africa and potentially create more than 385,000 new jobs in the rice value-chain across West Africa.
Madam Harriet Thompson, the British High Commissioner to Ghana, said: “The numbers speak for themselves: there is so much potential for growing the rice sector here in Ghana and across West Africa”.
“The ECOWAS Rice Observatory will support the growth of the rice industry and increase trade and investment opportunities in the market.”
“At a time when many countries around the world are facing food insecurity as a result of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, I am confident this project will strengthen the food system here in Ghana and across the region, now and in the future.”
The ERO provides a platform for rice stakeholders to understand patterns of demand and production, seize trade, investment and reform opportunities, understand the impacts of climate change, and work towards resilient food security.
The UK was also working with international partners to secure finance to respond to the global food crisis, which had been driven by climate change, and COVID-19.
It noted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was exacerbating existing economic fragility and food insecurity.
In October, Madam Thompson visited AgDevCo’s Babator Irrigated Farming Hub in the Savannah Region, which engaged 764,000 small-scale farmers and sustaining 15,600 jobs across the continent.
AgDevCo was a key investor in African agriculture, backed by UK Government investment.
The statement said earlier this year, AgDevCo sold Ghana’s biggest operational irrigated farmland to regional multi-national company, Oba Pack, having spent many years developing the site.