The President, John Dramani Mahama, has underscored the importance of rice, both as a food crop to reduce hunger and as a major contributor to the national economy.
President Mahama noted that the local rice industry had the capacity to create jobs and wealth and that about US$ 500 million spent annually on rice imports would stay in and support the national economy if the industry was supported to grow.
He, therefore, pledged government’s commitment to providing the required policy and financial interventions to help farmers increase the production and quality of Ghana rice and to achieve sufficiency in the consumption and demand to reduce imports drastically.
The President, who was speaking in a key note address delivered on his behalf at the opening of the Ghana National Rice Festival in Accra on Friday, disclosed that government had made certain interventions to improve the rice sector in the country.
These interventions, he said, included the creation of the EDAIF Rice Fund to help address financing challenges of the rice industry, adding that government was also working on the rehabilitation of some of the old dams to improve efficiency towards increasing the production of rice.
In a welcome address, the President of the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB), Mr Amoro Imoro, reiterated the potential of the local rice industry for increased incomes for farmers and urged farmers to intensify production through transplanting and the use of good quality seed.
Mr Amoro disclosed that under its main agenda of for the year 2016, GRIB would set up 10 Rice Business Service Centres in highly-concentrated rice-producing areas in Ghana to address the problem of low productivity along the rice value-chain in Ghana, emanating from the challenge of low access to inputs and its distribution, access to credit and market, technology and equipment services, among others.
He explained that the Business Service Centres would offer fee-based services such as mechanization, grain-drying and storage, market-oriented advisory, business development, book-keeping and accounting, input distribution, market facilitation, equipment maintenance, price negotiation and marketing services
He said in 2016, GRIB would also be collaborating with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) to improve the quality and marketability of locally-grown rice through the development of certification for both paddy and milled rice.
Mr Imoro, therefore, urged government, other stakeholders and development partners to support GRIB to implement its agenda of achieving self-sufficiency in rice in the next three years, which he said, was captured in GRIB’s Strategic Plan for 2013 to 2018.
The Ghana National Rice Festival aims to promote the consumption and development of the rice industry in Ghana.
The two-day festival, the second in a series, which took place over the weekend, formed part of activities by GRIB to promote the production, marketing and consumption of rice produced in Ghana.
The Festival brought together stakeholders, including farmers, millers, processors, traders, development agencies, national and international research organizations, and donors for business networking and for promoting rice produced, processed and marketed in Ghana.
Different varieties and brands of Ghana rice were showcased at the Festival which also provided an opportunity for rice farmers, marketers and the consuming public to interact and taste different kinds of dishes that can be prepared from Ghana rice to whip up consumption among Ghanaians and also encourage farmers to grow more rice.
It was organized by GRIB and the Rice Advocacy Council (RAC) on the theme: “Grow, Buy and Eat Quality Ghana Rice”.
Currently GRIB is working with the John Agyekum Kufuor (JAK) Foundation on Policy and Advocacy through the Competitive Africa Rice Initiative, supported by the German Development Co-operation (GIZ) to improve the rice industry in Ghana.
GRIB is also working with the JAK Foundation, Ghana Grains Council, GSA, FDA and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to review the national rice standards.
Under the programme, more than 200 Rice Value Chain Actors have been trained to implement the national rice standards to improve the quality of rice produced to meet competition in the market— the result of which training has tremendously improved the quality of Ghana rice with different brands.
Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)