Rice farmers in Nyariga, a farming community in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region, have been introduced to two new varieties of rice, AGRA and Banse Rice.
The two new early maturing and climate smart rice varieties have been introduced to rice farmers at Nyariga, a community in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region. Apart from the AGRA and Banse Rice varieties which are high yielding and pest tolerant, the farmers were also introduced to best agronomic practices including seed selection, transplanting, fertiliser application, pest control and harvesting among others.
The Savannah Agriculture Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI) developed and released the varieties as part of the implementation of Integrated Pest Management Using Rice Varieties and Good Agronomic Practices which was made known to farmers at a demonstration field at Nyariga.
The project being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Modernising Agriculture in Ghana with financial support from Global Affairs Canada is being piloted in five regions across the country.
The beneficiary regions are Upper East, Volta, Bono, Ashanti and Eastern. Dr Samuel Mahama, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, CSIR at the Head Office, noted that the project aimed to address issues of pest infestation, low yields and quality of rice and boost local production to help cut down importation.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ghana spends close to $1 billion on the importation of rice annually and between 2017 to 2020, the government spent GH₵6.874 billion to import only rice into the country.
Dr Mahama said the successes of the project which would be scaled up to benefit more farmers was part of efforts to complement government’s campaign for the consumption of locally produced rice to increase the revenue of farmers and develop the economy.
Dr Issah Sugri, Senior Research Scientist, CSIR-SARI, Manga Station, noted that due to climate change impact and erratic rainfall pattern, farmers needed to be supported to venture into early maturing and high yielding varieties coupled with best agronomic practices to increase production. Dr Sugri stated that AGRA and Banse rice matured between 95 to 120 days and 80 to 90 days respectively. He added that farmers could engage in multiple cropping within a year to meet the increasing demand for varieties, particularly the AGRA.
He encouraged farmers to make a paradigm shift from seeing farming as an avenue to feed their households to seeing farming as a business and adopt new improved technologies to increase production.
Mr Justice Ayine, Assemblyman for the Bongo-Nyariga Electoral Area, and on behalf of the farmers, expressed gratitude to CSIR-SARI and its partners for the knowledge imparted on them and hoped that it would help them increase their production outcomes.
Mr Ayine who is also the 2019 Upper East Regional best farmer, noted lack of farm implements such as tractors, planters and combined harvesters was affecting their efforts to increase production and appealed for support