ACCRA, GHANA — The government of the United Kingdom is investing £450,000 (US $516,417) in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Rice Observatory to reduce dependency on imported rice, ease food insecurity, support trade and create jobs.

In Ghana, COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 have exacerbated the challenges of climate change, including energy, financial and food security, the British High Commission Accra said. The UK, Ghana, ECOWAS and many other partners are working together to ensure that Ghana is playing its role in the West Africa region to produce more rice, facilitate trade and reduce costs to the consumer.

“At a time when many countries around the world are facing food insecurity as a result of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, I am confident this project will strengthen the food system here in Ghana and across the region, now and in the future,” said Harriet Thompson, British high commissioner to Ghana.

Through the Africa Food Trade and Resilience program, the UK government alongside strategic partners are investing in the establishment of the ECOWAS Rice Observatory (ERO) and its national chapter, known as the Ghana Competitive Africa Rice Platform (CARP). This new public-private sector platform will identify and encourage reforms to increase investment into the ECOWAS rice value chain. 

The British High Commission said this support for Ghana and other ECOWAS countries will help reduce the nearly $3 billion annual cost of importing rice to West Africa and potentially create more than 385,000 new jobs in the rice value chain across West Africa. 

“The numbers speak for themselves: There is so much potential for growing the rice sector here in Ghana and across West Africa,” Thompson said. “The ECOWAS Rice Observatory will support the growth of the rice industry and increase trade and investment opportunities in the market.”

The CARP was launched Nov. 1 in Accra at a ceremony led by its new chairman Yaw Poku, alongside Patrick Robert Ankobiah, chief director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and Thompson, as well as representatives of ECOWAS, the German development agency, GIZ and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. 

The ERO provides a platform for rice stakeholders to understand patterns of demand and production; seize trade, investment and reform opportunities; understand the impacts of climate change; and work toward a goal of resilient food security. 

As well as supporting the ERO, the UK continues to work with international partners to secure financial aid to respond to the global food crisis driven by climate change, COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In October, Thompson visited AgDevCo’s Babator irrigated farming hub in Ghana’s Savannah Region. Engaging 764,000 small-scale farmers and creating or sustaining 15,600 jobs across the continent, AgDevCo is a key investor in African agriculture, backed by UK government investment. 

Earlier this year, AgDevCo sold Ghana’s biggest active irrigated farmland to regional multinational company Oba Pack following many years developing the site.