Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, the Minister of State at the Presidency, has said it is the policy of government to expand the cultivation of rice and help reduce the importation of the commodity.

He said government deems the expansion rice of production as key to the economic growth of the country.

Speaking at the Ghana-Vietnam business forum in Accra, Mr Ankrah said government was also targeting value added investments in the rice industry to boost the economy.

The forum was held as part of a trade and investment visit by a Vietnamese delegation to explore opportunities in rice farming, processing, storage, marketing and distribution.

The trip is being organised by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with the Ghana-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Mrs Phan Thi Dieu Ha, leader of the delegation, said Ghana is known as an important rice market in the sub region.

She said bilateral trade between the countries were constantly increasing in recent years adding that Vietnamese customs records shows that in 2015 with a total turnover of $378.3 million was made.

She said it is necessary to strengthen the Vietnam-Ghana trade relations in all sectors of the economy.

“However, there are some disadvantages in trade between the two countries including the distance from each other and the method of trade,” she said.

Dao Manh Duc, Head of Trade Office of Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Nigeria, said the visit is to help improve the balance of trade between the two countries.

He said the rice investment and trade programmes would enhance the education on the latest trends in rice production, both in terms of practice and technology.

Michael Nti-Addo, the Vice President, Ghana-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce, said on average, Ghana imports about 400, 000 metric tons of rice yearly and this equivalent to 300 million dollars.

He said government policy is to increase local production of rice and reduce importation so as to improve our balance of trade.

Nti-Addo said the Ghana-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce would continue to work as the referee for businesses that would want to come together to move the rice trade and investment forward and create more jobs.

Vietnam is the number one exporter of rice in the world.