A Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Kennedy Osei Nyarko, says rice importers have welcomed the government’s intention to ban rice importation by 2022.
“When we communicated plans to ban the rice importation by 2022, the importers were happy. Their main challenge however is whether our current production capacity can meet demand to avoid going back,” he said.
Mr Nyarko made this known during a working visit to the rice processing unit of the Global Agricultural Development Company (GADCO), producers of Aduahene and Copa Jasmine brands of rice at Fievie, near Sogakope in the Volta Region.
The deputy minister visited last Tuesday to acquaint himself with the operations of the company.
The visit also took him to Wheta in the Anlo District in the Volta Region where he assured rice farmers of the government’s commitment to promote the production and marketing of Ghana rice.
Ban on importation of rice
After inspecting the facilities of GADCO, Mr Nyarko said the intention of the government to ban rice importation was to support local rice farmers to gain access to a market for their produce.
He said it would become a mirage if efforts were not made to scale up the production capacity of rice farmers in the country to meet the high demand for the commodity.
According to him, the country consumed about 940,000 tonnes of rice every month as against the country’s production capacity of about 400,000 tonnes.
Increase in paddy production
Mr Nyarko said the country had witnessed an increase in the production of paddy rice over the past two years.
“In 2018, we recorded a total rice production level of about 769,400 tonnes. We are inching this year to about 900,000 tonnes and we have given ourselves up to about 2022 to meet the average per capita consumption rate of rice in the country to about 1,135 tonnes,” he said.
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture added that the rice consumption rate kept going high so “we should be able to produce enough to meet consumption before we can say we want to ban rice importation.”
Rice mill cottages
He disclosed that as part of efforts to increase rice production in the country, the government intended setting up rice mill cottages in rice growing areas where the farmers would mill their rice.
“When this is done, the farmer would not be worried about his paddy rice getting rotten,” he said.
After the deputy minister’s address to the Copa Connect Farmers in Wheta, the Chairman of the Ghana Rice Interprofessional Body (GRIB), Mr Anthony Yaw Anyidoho, appealed to the government to further lower subsidies on farming inputs.
According to him, the cost of production of rice in the country was higher than the cost of importing rice.
“It is a challenge to sell our produce at a competitive price compared to the price of imported rice. If we want to eat rice that we grow in our country, then we need subsidy that is lower than the normal farming subsidy,” he said.
Sustainability of agricultural ventures
For his part, the Commodities and Procurement Manager of Wienco and fertiliser dealer, Mr Abdul Razak Sania, reiterated the company’s commitment to ensure that agricultural ventures in the country were sustainable.