SNV supports 3,000 farmers in a rice project

SNV Netherlands Development Organization, a Netherlands non-governmental organization (NGO), has begun a project to support some 3,000 farmers and processors in four districts of the Northern Region to improve the domestic rice market.

The two-year pilot project, which started in January 2014, is being implemented in Kumbungu, Tolon and the Sagnarigu districts as well as the Tamale Metropolitan Area and being funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the aim of increasing food security and income of smallholder farmers.

Mr Zakaria Jalil, Project Manager of Local Rice Farmers Can Feed West Africa of SNV, made this known in Tamale on Thursday during the pre-season match making event organized by SNV, the World Food Programme and the Ghana School Feeding Programme.

The forum brought together farmers, processors, creditors, caterers and input dealers with the aim of linking them to productive resources and structured markets to ensure the patronage of home-grown farm produce for the School Feeding Programme.

Mr Jalil said the 540,000-euro project would help cultivate some 4,400 hectares of farm land to produce 3,000 metric tons of paddy rice to processors through technology transfer. He said the project was also being implemented in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Benin and that the aim was also to enhance public policies for improved investment in local rice development.

“The project will adopt a value chain development approach that places emphasis on supporting lead firms in providing expanded market opportunities to create forward and backward linkages with all actors to drive increased production of consumer preferred varieties and improve the quality of locally grown rice”, he said.

Mr Jalil said despite the challenges facing the local rice sector, it presented a great opportunity if capacities of stakeholders within the sector were supported through access to seeds, tractor services, appropriate technology for rice harvesting and post harvest management.

Madam Ernestine Sanogo, SNV Advisor for Procurement Governance for Home Grown School Feeding Project (PGHGSFP), said while the SNV rice project was fully focused on rice, PGHGSFP was more interested in a wider range of commodities that respond to the request of caterers of the School Feeding Programme.

She said the project sought to improve food security and income of smallholder farmers by linking them to productive resources and market opportunities with quality locally grown products.

Alhaji Inusa Mahama, the Northern Region Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, stated that the objective of increasing enrolment, retention and improving nutritional value of pupils of the programme had largely been achieved.

He said it was uncertain whether the programme would use 80 percent of its staple foods produced locally as supposed to be the case and expressed the need for that objective to be achieved.

Alhaji Mahama said 591 schools were benefiting from the School Feeding Programme in the region and expressed worry that the caterers’ money was in arrears for about a year saying, “They have been paid for only 16 days for the first term of the academic year and schools are in third term now but nothing has come”.

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