Govt urged to leverage local rice production to turn economy around  

By Isaac Arkoh, GNA 

Cape Coast, May 23, GNA – The Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Bodies is urging the Government to leverage the recent surge in local rice production and consumption to reduce the free fall of the Ghana Cedi. 

Apart from saving the country more than $400 million spent annually on rice imports, the Association is confident the move would bolster local production, investments and impact positively on the local rice-growing economies. 

On the average, Ghana’s import bill exceeds US$10billion annually by a diverse range of items, which included agricultural products like rice, fish, poultry and palm. 

Other top imports are iron, steel, aluminium, sugar, oil, cement, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, toilet-rolls, toothpicks and fruit juices. 

Nana Kwabena Adjei Ayeh II, the President of the Bodies and the Divisional Chief of Ningo-Gangan under the Apimanim Traditional Area in the Central Region, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that policy and financial interventions could help reverse Ghana’s imports of rice, sugar and fish, which could be produced locally. 

Undoubtedly, Ghana’s heavy dependence on imports, especially rice, places tremendous pressure on the cedi, thus, creating an unfavourable balance of payments position.  

Nana Ayeh urged Ghanaians to change their mindsets and patronise locally produced rice, which was more nutritious, healthy and tastier than the imported ones. 

Some unique health benefits are the carbohydrate component to energise the body, manganese for metabolism, bone formation, reducing inflammation and folate required for making healthy red blood cells. 

He called on the Government to, as a matter of urgency, create market linkages for the large quantities of rice being produced this year to avoid post-harvest losses and increase the income levels of small holder farmers. 

In reaction to the Association’s call, some rice farmers in the Assin South, Assin Central, Assin North, and Twifo Atti-Morkwa districts in separate interviews with the Ghana News Agency corroborated the Association’s concerns. 

They indicated that although rice was being produced in the rice basins to feed the nation, nevertheless, access to markets and good prices continued to elude them. 

Mr Samuel Kofi Baidoo, a 35-year-old farmer at Assin Abodweseso, said: “As a result of the lack of access to markets last year, I could not sell my produce on time to rake in the needed revenue. Instead, I sold them at giveaway prices.” 

He mentioned some farmers who recorded post-harvest losses through bushfires because of lack of storage facilities amidst persistent increases in the prices of inputs and service of farm implements. 

“The situation forced some farmers to produce below capacity. Others did not engage in large-scale farming as they did in previous years,” he said. 

Madam Matilda Amoasi, a farmer at Assin Akropong, in her late 50s, said the cost of production was affecting the rice farmers, hence the need for government’s immediate intervention. 

“I do think that ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ is doing well, but we must look strategically at some crops in which we achieve self-sufficiency; it will help the economy.”  

“Right now, our cedi is depreciating, and the dollar is going up; that is due to the amount of rice, palm oil, vegetable oil and chicken we are importing,” she added.