The one-day stakeholders’ workshop was successfully held at the APTC Training Centre of the CSIR-Crops Research Institute (CSIR-CRI) at Fumesua on Wednesday, 3rd April, 2019 under the theme “Strengthening the Domestic Rice Industry in Ghana. This workshop was organised as an activity under the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU)-sponsored project “Crop and Soil Health Improvement for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Towards Economic Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa”. The project is a collaboration between the National Horticultural Research Institute, (NIHORT), Nigeria, Institute de l’Environment et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA), Burkina Faso, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden, the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana and the CSIR-Crops Research Institute, Ghana. There were over sixty (60) participants drawn from actors along the rice value chain in Ghana.  The actors were divided into four (4) main working groups comprising of producers (farmers, farmer-based organizations, researchers, agro dealers, seed companies, etc.), service providers (financial institutions, agro input dealers, irrigation operators, processors (rice millers, food vendors, Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body) and policy makers (MOFA, JICA, KOPIA).

The Acting Director of the CSIR-Crops Research Institute, Dr. Moses Brandford Mochiah gave the welcome address where he thanked organisers and participants for accepting to be part of the workshop. He called for continuous collaborations among stakeholders and wished participants fruitful discussion. He also pledged the support of CSIR-CRI towards addressing all researchable issues that would emerge from the workshop. This was immediately followed by an address by the Project Coordinator, Dr. Maxwell Darko Asante who stated the purpose of the gathering and highlighted the issues to be discussed and the expected outputs from the workshop. A presentation was made by Mr. Alhassan Imoro from the Rice Desk of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA). He gave an overview of the rice industry in Ghana and identified the major constraints/challenges along the rice value chain as land tenure, socio-cultural issues, trans boundary/regional issues, research and development as well as human and institutional capacities. This was followed by a presentation by Dr. Sidi Sanyang from AfricaRice. He emphasized the need for a reduction in imports and advised that the rice sector development to be market-focused. A break-out session was held where participants were grouped into four main working groups to discuss specific issues affecting them.

Participants identified the following challenges and constraints associated with the rice value chain in Ghana:
•    Lack of a functioning seed and land tenure system
•    High cost of machinery and inappropriate land preparation techniques
•    Lack of knowledge on fertilizer application, harvesting techniques and pests and disease control
•    High cost of improved seeds
•    Lack of access to timely credit facilities
•    Poor linkage between farmers and research institutions
•    Poor post-harvest management of rice grains
•    Lack of access to good rice milling machines
•    High cost of well packaged local rice
•    Poor rice marketing strategies
•    Limited enforcement of rice policies
•    Ineffective collaboration among stakeholders
•    Ineffective subsidy programmes

The major conclusions and recommendations from the discussions and deliberations were summarized under the following action points:  
•    IMPROVE SEED SYSTEM (Access, certification, quality, capacity building for seed industry players)
•    IMPROVE LAND TENURE SYSTEM (Ownership rights, allocation, litigation)
•    PROVIDE MACHINERY (Tariff reduction, accessibility)
•    CREATE NATIONAL RICE POLICY COORDINATION COMMITTEE (To see to the revie wing of projects to avoid duplication and the efficient use of resources)
•    ENFORCE IMPORT LEVY AND AFFIRMATIVE POLICY (Increase importation levy from 20% to 25% and use the 5% increment to set up a Rice Fund for the local rice industry; enforce the affirmative policy which compels importers to purchase 20% of their intended imports locally before acquiring import permits.
•    FORM AND STRENGTHEN RICE ADVOCACY GROUPS (e.g. GRIB)- Encourage the formation of new advocacy groups and strengthening existing ones.
•    DEVELOP AND DISSEMINATE IMPROVED RICE TECHNOLOGIES (varieties, improved agronomic practices and pest/diseases management)
•    DEVELOP AND ENFORCE STANDARDS FOR RICE VALUE CHAINS (Machinery, Grain quality, products development and packaging, pricing)
•    ENHANCE TRAINING CENTRES FOR ACTORS (Researchers, Extension agents, marketers, processors, farmers and service providers)
•    ENHANCE ACCESS TO AGRICULTURAL FINANCE (Special rates for agriculture, timely release of funds and other facilities, educate farmers to keep up with repayment plan.)
•    DEVELOP AN ATTRACTIVE MARKETING SYSTEM FOR LOCAL RICE (Improve branding and open up more rice marketing outlets for grain and products)

Dr. Maxwell Darko Asante
Project Co-ordinator at CSIR- Crops Research Institute

Dr. Moses Brandford Mochiah
Acting Director, CSIR-Crops Research Institute