About 300 women in the Upper West Region have benefited from a skilled enhancement in rice parboiling to enable them add value to their processed rice in order to improve on the market value of their produce.
The beneficiaries were rice parboilers from nine selected communities in three districts and municipalities in the region-Wa Municipal, Wa West and Wa East Districts.
The European Union (EU)/German Development Cooperation (GIZ) in partnership with the Upper West Regional Agricultural Department organized the training under the auspices of the Market Oriented Agricultural Programmed in North West Ghana (MOAP-NW).
Madam Benedette Naab, the Wa Municipal Women in Agricultural Development (WIAD) Officer, a facilitator of the training, noted that the participants were taken through the processes involved in rice parboiling.
She explained that the participants were trained on how to clean, parboil using the parboiling vessel and dry the rice before milling so that the end product would compete with other similar products that were imported.
Madam Safura Adam, a participant who spoke at the training section at Jonga in the Wa Municipality, commended the GIZ for taking the initiative to train them on rice parboiling.
“We did not know how to process the rice. Sometimes we will allow it to over boil and when we dry it, we will realize that some are cracking. When we do it there will also be stones inside so people don’t always want to buy”, she explained.
Madam Adam, however, noted that the skilled acquired from the training would enable them process good quality rice and improve on their business, which would further boost their financial status.
According to her they, hitherto, did not follow appropriate ways of parboiling the rice thereby affecting its quality and market price.
Mr. Desmond Twumasi, Agricultural Expert in charge of Rice at MOAP, explained that women who were engaged in rice processing in the region lacked the requisite skills and techniques in parboiling, which resulted in poor quality of milled rice.
“One key challenge facing women engaged in rice processing in the Upper West Region is the poor quality of milled rice.
“The situation largely attributed to lack of effective techniques in parboiling, results in high processing cost and poor-quality milled rice, which does not attract premium market prices for improved income to smallholder farmers”, he explained.
He expressed hope that the training would equip the rice processors with the needed skills to enable them maximize cost of processing while improving the quality of their processed rice to attract market.
That, he said, would help improve the income of smallholder farmers and to attract more women into rice processing thereby creating jobs for the women.
Mr. Huudu Abu, the acting Wa Municipal Director of Agriculture, noted that in order to ensure sustainability, WIAD officers in the region had been trained and provided with the necessary training equipment to also train other women groups in rice parboiling.
“That equipment would be with the department of Agric to use for further training of interested women groups who are into parboiling using the local ways of parboiling.
“All we need to do is that if a group in any of the communities that is into parboiling and is using the local way of parboiling, then we can go and train them”, Mr Abu who is also the Regional Coordinator for the EU-Ghana Agriculture Programme, explained.
The objective of MOAP is to enhance the quality of agricultural produce to increase incomes of smallholder farmers as well as to create jobs for the actors in seven selected crop value chains-sorghum, Rice, groundnut, soy beans, vegetables, cashew and mango.