Chinese executives of state farms in Ningxia Province were in Ghana to explore opportunites in rice farming and expressed interest in acquiring the struggling state-owned Aveyime Cattle Ranch.
The Volta Region could be the answer to Ghana’s quest for self-sufficiency in the production of rice, John Kofi Tsrakasu, Volta Regional Director of Agriculture, said last Tuesday.
He said the region had the climates, land and landscape and the waters to support vast cultivation of the produce, now virtually a staple, and needed only the investments and technical expertise to proceed.
Mr Tsrakasu was briefing guests at a dinner hosted by the Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC) in honour of a technical delegation from the Ningxia Province of the People’s Republic of China to the region.
The visit is in line with sister region ties between that of the Chinese Autonomous Region and the Volta Region, initiated by Togbe Afede XIV, Agbogbomefia of Asogli in 2009, under the aegis of the Volta Regional Development Agency.
Mr Tsrakasu said the vegetation variants in the region could support virtually all rice types.
He said the rolling hills along the water ways, especially the Volta Lake, would provide the gradient where waters drawn from the rivers could be splashed through irrigation canals into vast fallow lands for rice growing.
Mr Tsrakasu said a rice cultivation boom for local consumption and export was sure to affect the economy of the region and incomes of the people.
Togbe Soglo Alloh IV, Vice-President of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs, said the Ningxia Province - Volta Region sister region deal had manifested in the exchange of visits by politico-business teams of both sides in the past years, resulting in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
He said the focal point of business with the Chinese was in the areas of agriculture and health and that a Chinese concern was in the process of acquiring land in the Krachi areas of the region for cultivation of cashews.
Togbe Alloh, who is also Paramount Chief of the Likpe Traditional Area, said the six-member Ningxia team, comprising executives of state farms, had been touring the Afife Irrigation and Aveyime farms, both large scale croppers of rice, involving out-growers.
He said the team expressed interest in acquiring the struggling state-owned Aveyime Cattle Ranch.
The ranch, which started in 1973 by government under the auspices of the defunct Volta Regional Development Corporation (VRDC) with Italian Government support, had 2000 cattle but currently has only 215.
Nana Alloh said the team would also visit the Krachi areas of the region.
Mr Li Xueming, Deputy Director-General, Ningxia State Farms Bureau, said the team was in Ghana and the Volta Region specifically to further evaluate the proposed projects under the MoU for implementation and hoped that, the Ningxia-Volta relations would grow to be a win-win endevour for both sides.
Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo, Volta Regional Minister, gave the assurance that, the VRCC and the traditional authorities would support the Chinese to attain their investment goals in the region for mutual benefit.
The dinner was attended by bureaucrats, some municipal and district chief executives and National Democratic Congress functionaries.
A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation 2011 document said: “Ghana spends 450 million US dollars annually on rice importation to satisfy local demand” and that “the country’s self-sufficiency in rice production stands at about 30 percent, leaving a shortfall of 70 percent”.