Ghana is largest export market for US rice in West Africa, GM food crops on market – WikiLeaks

Category: General News, Lead Story 55 2

Ghana is the largest commercial market for US rice in West Africa. US producers maintain about a third of the Ghanaian rice market over the last several years, a US Embassy cable released by  WikiLeaks August 26, 2011 says.

The Cable was primarily written to request an amount of $13,700 to bring down a biotechnology expert to Ghana

The summary says  “biotech outreach funds for a U.S. biotechnology expert in agricultural production and development to visit Ghana for one week to engage with government officials and legislators, academics, public audiences, and the media on the merits of biotechnology and the importance of regulating biotech products.”

The cable then indicates that “U.S. food exports to Ghana, valued at $86 million in 2008, consist primarily of rice, poultry and consumer products.  Ghana is the largest commercial market for U.S. rice in West Africa, with U.S. producers maintaining about a third of the Ghanaian rice market over the last several years.”

In 2009,  local rice farmers produced only 30 per cent of the country’s requirement. The remaining two-thirds, worth $500 million, was imported.

Meanwhile, in 1999-2000 Ghana’s rice import bill was $100 million.

According to the cable Ghana has not yet adopted comprehensive legislation regulating  the production and sale of biotech products.  The Government of Ghana is currently considering a draft Biosafety Bill that was  prepared with international technical assistance (including from USAID), but the draft legislation has not yet been submitted to the Parliament.

It says in May 2008, the Parliament did pass a Biosafety Legislative Instrument, which allows for field trials of biotech products, but not their commercialization.  The Legislative Instrument thus allows for scientific advancement in Ghana while the executive and legislative branches of government continue to consider the merits of a comprehensive biosafety law.

The cable says public opinion on biotechnology is divided, with some editorials  questioning the wisdom and safety of genetically engineered crops.

Other observers have argued that the higher crop yields and the greater resistance to pests associated with genetically modified seeds could help Ghana more effectively deal with issues of food security and the likely impact on farming from climate change, it observes.

The cable however reveals that “While public opinion remains divided, some biotech products are  already being sold in Ghana.  In addition, genetically modified cotton and other crops, which are grown in Burkina Faso (Ghana’s northern neighbor), may already be growing in Northern Ghana, or these seeds will soon migrate to and be grown in that region of the country.  While current law allows for field trials of biotech crops, no experimental fields are currently under cultivation, as far as we are aware, though some U.S. companies have begun the processes of requesting permission to engage in such trials in country.”

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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2 thoughts on “Ghana is largest export market for US rice in West Africa, GM food crops on market – WikiLeaks

  1. GH

    Laziness and lack of vision is the root cause of these mess. The smarter Ghanian leaders at level start thinking about using Ghanaian arable lands as well as over abubdant water bodies the better the country will be. Ghanaians should patronized made in Ghana else Ghanaians will continue to be slaves covered with poverty especially te few who think they rich enough not so smart I call them

  2. Prince Awele Odor

    This is bribery to murder. The President of Ghana is disappointing, just as disappointing as Kofi Anan has been, for promoting GM foods without any evidence that any GM food is safe for consumption by human beings and animals. If Ghanians gave GM foods to Americans under this situation, would their president and Congress have approved it. Should the enslavement of Africans, including Ghanians, the barbaric way it was carried out,and the effects that have endured, not teach the lesson of RESISTANCE if not retaliation? Where is the glory of Kwame Nkuruma’s Ghana?.

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