The Jospong Group of Companies (JGC) has commenced its integrated rice farming project following the decision of the government to boost the economy through import substitution.
Presenting the 2023 Budget in Parliament last week, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, said that as part of efforts to promote exports, the government will expand the productive capacity in the real sector of the economy and actively encourage the consumption of locally produced rice, poultry, vegetable oil and fruit juices, ceramic tiles among others.
In furtherance of this, a team from the JGC led by its Executive Chairman, Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, visited Thailand to understudy the Thai rice sector in order to replicate their experiences and strategy in Ghana.
The intention of Jospong Group of Companies is to partner with major rice industry players in Thailand to provide technical and equipment support for the entire rice value chain in Ghana with the aim of producing rice for the local and export market.
The JGC delegation was supported by the High Commissioner of Ghana in Malaysia in charge of Thailand and other South-East Asian countries, Mrs Florence Akonor.
In her remarks, the High Commissioner indicated that the rice project marks another level of bilateral cooperation between Thailand and Ghana for mutual benefits. She expressed deep appreciation to the Honorary Consul, Dr Sicha Singsomboon, and her team for their hard work in facilitating the visit. She stressed that the collaboration was fundamental for deepening cooperation to improve the economies of both countries, especially for rice production.
The importation of rice into Ghana exceeds 60% annually, with dire economic consequences. Between 2007 and 2015, the amount spent on imported rice rose from $151m to $1.2bn per annum, with domestic consumption supplemented by imports primarily from Thailand, Vietnam and India. Ghana’s annual rice importation, which currently stands at 1.3 billion USD, continues to increase yearly.
This negative narrative in the rice sector can only be changed with the injection of massive capital by big sector players from the private sector.
The Jospong Group of Companies have commenced its 100,000 acres of rice production, with land banks secured. The Group intends to partner with the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB) and other local rice players to achieve this vision.
The project involves integrated rice farming methods ranging from seed development, paddy cultivation, milling, packaging and marketing.
The delegation visited and discussed with captains of industry in the rice sector in Thailand.
This included Thai Farmers Lifestyle and Learning Centre, rice equipment manufacturers such as Kubota, Satake and Deler Engineering Services as well as Thai EXIM Bank.
The Thai Exim Bank was very impressed and, thus, expressed its readiness to support JGC.
The delegation also visited fertiliser manufacturers, the Institute of Food Research and Product Development, Kasetsart University.
At a press conference held in Bangkok, the Executive Chairman, Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, called on the players within the Ghana rice value chain to collaborate for the development of the industry.
As part of the outcome of the visit, the Jospong Group of Companies signed MOUs with key sector rice players in Thailand to establish Seed Development and Research Centres, Rice Mechanisation Centres, Bio-organic Fertilizer Production Centres, Supply of Farm Implements and Rice Mills in Ghana. The first batch of the technical team is expected to arrive in Ghana in December