Jospong Group of Companies (JGC) has entered into partnership with major rice industry players in Thailand to develop an integrated rice farming project.
The Thai companies will provide technical and equipment support for the entire rice value chain in the country with the aim of producing rice for the local and export market.
The first batch of the technical team is expected to arrive in Ghana in December.
This followed 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 as part of efforts to promote exports, the government would expand the productive capacity in the real sector of the economy and actively encourage the consumption of locally produced rice, poultry, vegetable oil, fruit juices and ceramic tiles, among others.
A team from the Jospong Group, led by its Executive Chairman, Joseph Siaw Agyepong, had been to Thailand to understudy the Thai rice sector in order to replicate their experiences and strategy in the country.
While in Thailand, the Jospong Group signed an MoU with key sector rice players for the establishment of a seed development and research centre, rice mechanisation centres, bio-organic fertiliser production centres, supply of farm implements and rice mills in the country.
The JGC delegation was supported by the High Commissioner of Ghana to Malaysia with concurrent accreditation to Thailand, Florence Akonor.
Top industry players the delegation visited included Thai Farmers Lifestyle and Learning Centre; rice equipment manufacturers such as Kubota, Satake and Deler Engineering Services, the Thai EXIM Bank, fertiliser manufacturers, the Institute of Food Research and Product Development, Kasetsart University.
The Thai EXIM Bank was impressed and, thus, expressed its readiness to support JGC.
Already, the Jospong Group had commenced 100,000 acres of rice production, with land banks secured.
The Group intends to partner the Ghana Rice Inter-professional Body (GRIB) and other local rice players to achieve this vision.
The project involved integrated rice farming methods ranging from seed development, paddy cultivation, milling, packaging and marketing.
In her remarks, the High Commissioner indicated that the rice project marked 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.
Mrs Akonor stressed that the collaboration was fundamental in deepening cooperation to improve the economies of both countries, especially for rice production.
At a press conference held in Bangkok, Mr Agyepong called on the players within the Ghana rice value chain to collaborate for the development of the industry.
He said Jospong Group was determined to make a huge impact in the venture for the benefit of the country.
Ghana imports more than 60 per cent of its rice needs, with dire economic consequences.
Between 2007 and 2015, the amount spent on imported rice rose from $151million to $1.2 billion annually, and currently imports of the commodity stand at $1.3 billion, with domestic consumption supplemented by imports primarily from Thailand, Vietnam and India.
The government believes that the negative narrative in the rice sector can only be changed with the injection of massive capital by big sector players from the private sector.