Some 800 farmers in the Sekyere South District of the Ashanti Region have benefitted from the distribution of 32,000 kilogrammes of certified rice seeds and 10 rice threshers, under the Development of Rice and Aquaculture Value Chain for Youth Empowerment (RAV CHAIN) project.

The project is an initiative of the ‘Invest for Jobs’ programme, and Western Deedew Group and SkyFox Limited have so far delivered a total of 77,000 kilogrammes of rice seeds to farmers in the district.

RAV CHAIN project seeks to develop a viable and sustainable agriculture system, with rice production aimed at improving the rice value chain while contributing to the sector’s job-creating growth.

It is expected to create jobs for 350 youths within the rice value chain, for both out-growers and off-takers, and improve the incomes of 800 existing farmers in the Sekyere South district.

It is recognised that among the factors considered in empowering the youth is the availability of jobs to ensure an improved standard of living.

According to a 2019 World Bank report, half of the young people between the ages of 15-24 in Ghana are currently out of school with 27 percent unemployed. But it noted that the agriculture sector remains a major contributor to the economic growth of Ghana, employing about 31 percent of Ghana’s labour force.

Team Leader of Invest for Jobs at GIZ-Ghana, John Duti, indicated that through the agreement between the German Development Cooperation and its partners, the 32,000kg of AGRA-certified rice seeds will be distributed to the farmers at no cost.

It is expected that each farmer will receive 40kg of rice seeds, which can cultivate about two acres of land.

“As part of the distribution, 10 rice threshers will be given to the yet-to-be formalised Sekyere South Rice Farmer Cooperative or Association to ease its members’ difficulty of threshing rice during harvest.

“We hope that during the formalisation of the District Rice Farmer Association, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and Bridgeway Development Consult will support the farmers to develop an operational and sustainability modality for the rice threshers,” he added.

The Chief Executive of Western Deedew Group, Alfred Amofa – also speaking at the ceremony to distribute the seeds, stated that the project will not only improve the livelihoods of youth in the district but also benefit a considerable percentage of the women who form about 37 percent of the total beneficiaries.

The Director of MoFA in Sekyere South district, John Ankomah Koranteng, commended the efforts of Western Deedew, Skyfox Limited and the German Development Cooperation for their support to rice farmers in the district.

RAV CHAIN will leverage three main activities: promoting rice production through support to smallholders to improve yields and establishing new rice farms, and integrating aquaculture into rice production. This is being done to contribute to a circular economy and create and strengthen linkages between rice farmers and off-takers such as Western Deedew Group Company Limited.

‘Invest for Jobs’ is an initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented, among others, by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Source: Business and Financial Times