The Market Oriented Agriculture Programme (MOAP) in North West Ghana, has provided rice parboiling training techniques for 35 women in the Upper West Region to help improve the quality of parboil rice produce to access markets and better prices.
The MOAP explained that the persistent complaints of rice parboilers in the Upper West Region, had largely stemmed from a lack of knowledge in effective parboiling technique, which often resulted in poor quality products.
The Regional Agriculture Department in collaboration with GIZ, a German Development Cooperation, and MOAP–NW Programme organised the two-day rice parboiling technique training workshop for representatives of five rice parboiling groups in Wa.
The women were drawn from Wa Municipality, Wa East and Wa West Districts with facilitators coming from rice parboiling groups from Navrongo in the Upper East Region.
The European Union and German Government funded the programme with GIZ and MOAP in North West Ghana delivering the programme in collaboration with the Regional Agriculture Department to add value along the rice value chain development.
Parboiling is a system of rice processing, which involves soaking, steaming and drying of the rice before de-hulling in a mill.
Parboiling rice caused it to have a yellowish colour, drove nutrients (especially thiamine) from the bran into the endosperm, improving nutritional quality, and results in less breakage when milled, making it more resistant to weevil damage in storage.
Mr Abu Huudu, the Upper West Regional Officer at the Regional Department of Agriculture appealed to the representatives of the participatory groups to consider providing the skills and techniques acquired from the workshop to other women in the rice parboiling value added chain in the communities to enhance quality grains.
He said rice had been considered the second widely consumed staple food crop after maize in the region and, as such rice cultivation in the region had steadily increased due to the increasing consumption at the household levels.
Mr Huudu however noted that the level of consumption far exceeded the levels of production in the region, compared to neighbouring Upper East and Northern Regions.
Acting upon this challenge the GIZ and MOAP in North West Ghana had been collaborating with the Regional Department of Agriculture in the development of the rice value chain, and also to explore for other training needs assessment for enhancement and to fill the gaps along the rice value chain development in the region.
Dr. Andrew Harberd, Team Leader of the MOAP-NW Programme, who also addressed the women, said the delivery of an intervention in providing rice processing knowledge to processing groups in the region was the best way to helping the Regional Agricultural Department and the MOAP-NW Programme to work together to provide a quality result and development in the agriculture sector.
He stated that rice consumers in the region had continually complained of challenges with the quality of parboiled rice products and said it was important that rice parboiling processes and techniques were being provided to rice parboilers to help produce a much better quality product to enhance local consumption among households.
Dr. Harberd observed that farmers in the Upper East Region, though not having the quality and availability of farming land as in the Upper West Region, and a typically lower rainfall, know well how to use their land.
He explained that perhaps what the farmers there had was a better appreciation of good agricultural practices and application of good farming technique, which made them generally better and more productive than farmers in the Upper West Region.
He said it was upon this reason that in the 2018/2019 dry season, the MOAP –North West Project sponsored an onion farmer from Upper East to the Upper West Region to train 65 smallholder farmers in onion production.
This training was also replicated in Lambussie District for farmers, with additionally a farmer to farmer visit to Bolgatanga to see the results of good agricultural practices in onion production in the Upper East Region.
Dr Harberd said as part of the 2020 annual work plan of the Upper West Regional Agricultural Department, the MOAP provided means of transport in addition to an Agronomist to accompany six rice farmers from the Upper West Region to experience modern rice production techniques at the Tono Irrigation Scheme in Navrongo.
He said it was on that study tour that two women visited the rice parboilers and observed the techniques usage and appealed to MOAP to bring down experts in rice parboiling techniques from Upper East Region to come and train their colleagues in the Upper West Region to help produce a much better quality products.