By: Yvonne Atilego
Consumption of Ghana Rice or indigenous produced rice is steadily enjoying patronage in the country.
Many have attributed this to the “Eat Ghana Rice Campaign’’ launched 2 years ago. Views sampled from rice farmers and the public attest to the quality and nutritious nature of the Ghana rice, compared to imported rice. There are however fears that the positive patronage may be short-lived if the farmers do not get continuous access to fertilizer and rice processing equipment to boost production. GBC NEWS’ Yvonne Atilego in this report looks at the state of Ghana rice 2 years after the campaign promoting local consumption.
In 2019 there were social media reports of glut at some rice farms in the Upper East Region, with no ready market for the produce and some getting rotten on farms. The farmers blamed their predicament at the time on how Ghanaians preferred imported rice to the indigenous produced grains. Besides, the government also is not giving the local rice industry the deserved attention. They also complained about challenges such as access to fertilizer and machinery to harvest rice.
To deal with the apathy associated with the local rice a private radio station championed the ‘’Eat Ghana Rice Campaign’’ to encourage local consumption. The campaign received a major endorsement from President Akufo-Addo who gave a directive to the National Food Buffer Stock Company to source all its rice locally and the School Feeding Program to serve local rice. So, we ask? After 2 years, what is the state of the local rice?
Some vendors and consumers gave thumbs up for the local rice which they said is now their preferred choice. They however complained that it is too exorbitant.
In response, rice farmers across the country think access to dryers and milling plants and fertilizers will be a major boost to them. The Rice Millers Association of Ghana (RMAG) until recently called for a reversal of the benchmark value reduction policy of the government. According to them the policy over the last 2 years has made a very negative impact on the Ghana rice industry as most rice mills are currently shut down and workers laid off.
The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana is a civil society organisation which continues to put the radar on patronizing what is produced in the country. Charles Nyaaba, who is the Head of Programmes and Policy of the Association, lauded the government’s interventions especially in the last 2 years to boost local rice production.
“I however call for a sustained deliberate effort to put the indigenous rice industry in its proper place in Ghana’s Agricultural Sector.”
The desire of all Ghanaians is for the country to be self-sufficient in domestic rice production in the short term to reduce the high import bill. And the obvious medium to long term good is to have excess for export. However, this cannot be achieved if challenges facing the indigenous rice sector are not tackled head on.