Ghana has the capacity and resources to produce rice for consumption and export, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Mr Akinwumi Adesina, has said.
“It, therefore, has no business importing rice to the value of $400 million annually.
“Ghana absolutely has no business at all importing rice. You are spending US$400 million a year importing what you should be exporting,” he said.
Addressing a dinner organised for him by the Ministry of Finance in Accra, Mr Adesina pledged the AfDB’s support to Ghana in the area of rice production.
The dinner was attended by the Vice-President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Ernest Addison, and key government functionaries.
Mr Adesina is on a three-day visit to Ghana as part of the bank’s efforts to strengthen cooperation with African countries.
The High 5s
AfDB’s portfolio in Ghana as of June 2017 is composed of 22 operations with an overall commitment of about US$ 950,319,370
The bank is finalising a new country strategy paper (CSP) for Ghana for the period 2017-2021.
The strategy will support Ghana’s efforts to transform the economy through three of AfDB’s High 5s (Light up and power Africa, industrialise Africa and feed Africa).
The High 5s are Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialised Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.
The High 5s are areas in which the bank is focusing on to help accelerate Africa’s economic transformation.
“Coming from the airport, I was speaking to the Minister of Finance about northern Ghana and I was saying that northern Ghana has over 400,000 hectares of land which are very good for agriculture. I think we are going to do something about that. It is one of the key issues that we are going to be discussing,” he said.
Mr Adesina said the fastest way to lift millions of people out of poverty in Africa was to transform rural economies.
“We have to make sure that agriculture, which is their basic source of livelihood, is made a business not a way of life. I don’t believe that agriculture is a way of life at all. It is a development activity. This is where Africa’s wealth will come from if we do it the right way. Agro industrialisation has to play a very big role in what we do,” he stated.
The AfDB president also spoke about the bank’s plans to support Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to transform the cocoa industry and create more wealth and jobs from the produce.
“You are trying with 40 per cent of cocoa production but you can do more. The bank will support you and Côte d’Ivoire with how you can co-ordinate your production and also your market support to avoid the fluctuations that you currently see. I have a firm belief that God has given every nation what they need to develop and to strive. The issue is what you do with it. We have a programme that we are going to be discussing with you,” Mr Adesina added.
Thanking the government for making the visit possible,The AfDB president spoke about the steady progress made by Ghana since the 2016 general election.
“Consistent with its ‘Feed Africa’ strategy, the African Development Bank will support the government’s efforts to improve the underperforming value chains which fail to add enough value to agricultural produce, repair and rebuild inadequate infrastructure, improve access to agricultural financing; and to reduce volatility in the international price of cocoa,” he said.
He added that the bank would also contribute to the stabilisation of the energy sector.
Dr Bawumia lauded Mr Adesina for his focus on agriculture and pledged the government’s support.
“It is clear that the AfDB is going places with you as President. We can see and feel it. For any economy in Africa to change, we need to solve the agriculture problem. This will put us on the way to industrialise. Our next budget as a country will focus on agriculture. We are counting on the bank to be with us on this journey as you have always been,” he said.
For his part, the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori Atta, commended AfDB’s work in Ghana and expressed optimism that the partnership would be strengthened with Mr Adesina’s visit.
“As a country, we believe we need to get back to basics and the beauty of Adesina’s presidency is this clarity on agriculture and the need for us to have food security and more important, power and the whole concept of industrialisation. And it is exciting to have someone who has had quite a lot of experience and success in Nigeria as Agriculture Minister at this time when we most need it.
“There are a lot of loan facilities that we are working on, and there are already good projects in energy, agriculture, rural roads and others. For all of us, between energy and agriculture, we should be able to strike a partnership.
“We are also very clear that the AfDB should be the lead institution so that when we are getting multilateral donor funding, they are following what AfDB is doing. In all these, the need to increase our capital base is key. President, we are way behind you because it is important,” he said.
Mr Ofori-Atta also commended the bank for stepping in to ensure that Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire worked together to change the cocoa narrative.
“That is because our leaders have not been working together. The President of the AfDB is stepping in and we are working together to see how we can change this,” he stated.