- Ghanaians have fed on the so-called perfumed foreign rice to the extent that the consumption of locally produced rice is at an all-time low, even though it is very nutritious and healthier.
Written By Dominic Hlordzi - For decades, successive governments made efforts to make Ghana fully sufficient in food production.
Several initiatives and programmes have been implemented with the aim of producing enough to feed the population and for export.
Unfortunately, this dream is yet to materialise as the country continues to depend on other countries to meet demands for certain types of foodstuff.
Apart from tubers and a few other food items that the country is somewhat producing to meet demands, most of the food items on major supermarkets across the country are imported.
Rice which is heavily consumed by many, is one such product that the country has for years been struggling to produce to meet demands.
Ghanaians have fed on the so-called perfumed foreign rice to the extent that the consumption of locally produced rice is at an all-time low, even though it is very nutritious and healthier.
It is in view of this that we commend government in its efforts to increase the production of rice and subsequently ban rice imports by 2022.
According to the Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie-Akoto, rice importers would be ordered to cease their trade-in three years if everything goes on as planned.
This is a bold and ambitious initiative that needs the support of all Ghanaians to achieve.
Recently, local rice farmers in parts of Northern Ghana have been saddled with low patronage.
A situation that is threatening their livelihoods hence their cry for buyers.
It is important for Government through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to take steps to encourage consumption of locally produced rice to avert the situation where farmers produce and they cannot find buyers.
For the ban on imported rice to be successful in the next three years, it is essential for the country to establish production capacity to meet demands.
Rice farmers will also need to be assisted with infrastructure and inputs like subsidised fertilisers, irrigation facilities, milling machines and storage facilities.
One other measure that should be taken into consideration in the quest to ban imports is the implementation of climate change resilient schemes to ensure that farmers do not suffer during severe climatic conditions.
It is also vital for off-takers and bulk purchasers to be supported with loans with reasonable interest rates so as to enable them to buy regularly from the farmers.
The rice importers who are kicking against the sale of local rice and thwarting efforts to promote locally produced rice must buy into the Ghana First Principle and rather go into the sale of the local rice to help keep money in the country.
The Food and Beverages Association of Ghana, the national trade body representing manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers believes Ghana can successfully ban the importation of rice by 2022, however, some critical interventions must be put in place.
The General Secretary of the Association, Samuel Aggrey in an interview with the media mentioned the provision of silos to promote mass storage of harvested rice as a critical intervention.
It is mind-boggling to learn that rice forms about 80 per cent of all imports into the country costing more than one billion Dollars, almost two per cent of the country’s GDP in 2018.
It is our prayer that the government’s flagship programmes like Planting for Food and Jobs Programme, One-Village-One-Dam among others will help in the attainment of this vision of banning importation of rice.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, let us all endeavour to consume locally produced rice.
In so doing we will be helping the economy through job creation, income generation and addressing foreign exchange challenges.
NEWS COMMENTARY ON GOVERNMENT PLANS TO BAN RICE IMPORTS BY 2022.
BY DOMINIC HLORDZI, A JOURNALIST.