GHANA – The Development Bank of Ghana (DBG) has embarked on an initiative to boost the production of poultry and cereals in a bid to promote food security in the country.
The bank has earmarked rice, maize, and soya bean as the cereal sof importance in contributing to the country’s food basket, Michael Mensah Baah, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of DBG said during a media interaction.
Mr. Baah elaborated that the initiative will take off with four workshops in Kumasi, Sunyani, and Sogakope to engage key stakeholders in the value chain and provide support in boosting the production of the commodities locally.
The initiative comes at a time when the country is working towards boosting local production to offset import bills on food commodities, currently estimated at US$10 billion annually, as well as job creation in a national economy drive.
Meanwhile, rice is fast emerging as a strategic cash crop and an economic tool for the Ghanaian population. Currently, Ghana imports more than 60% of its rice primarily from Thailand, Vietnam, and India.
However, Mr. Baah said that the banks’ intervention would offset the annual US$1 billion spent on rice imports and US$600 million on poultry and the revenue can be channeled into other national developments.
In addition, during the recent Dakar II Summit, the Ghanaian government revealed that it has set aside US$684 million for domestic rice production and processing as part of its pathways to self-sufficiency in the next five years.
Mr. Baah said the bank had already held a stakeholder engagement with several stakeholders, including the Ghana Stock Exchange, the MasterCard Foundation, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on how DBG could do things differently to support the growth of the value chain
However, he revealed that the strategy of the bank was to act as a catalyst, explaining that “we don’t aim to do everything on our own, but we aim to bring all the various stakeholders who are also interested.”
Mr. Baah said that since its establishment, the bank had access to almost US$700 million, adding that “the funding gap that we see in agriculture is significant but we believe what we have is enough to start the journey of providing the support to the sector”.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, the Deputy Chief Economist of DBG, Dr. Godwin Kojo Ayenor, said with the kind of economy that was envisaged, the country needed to feed itself and export the remainder.
Dr. Godwin emphasized that earmarked cereal commodities are important crops in Ghanaian meals and are key to achieving food security.
He pointed out that rice is a major source of carbohydrates and essential nutrients for millions of Ghanaians while maize is a staple food crop in the country, used in a variety of food products, including maize flour, corn dough meal, and cornflakes