Ghana struggles to cut rice imports

RiceGhana is struggling to cut down on the country’s rice imports, by making efforts to focus on production and consumption of local produce.

A US Embassy cable released by  WikiLeaks August 26, 2011 says 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, it said.

In 2014, Ghanaians consumed a total of 754,698 metric tons of rice and imports make up 52 per cent of the figure, but it’s believed that the numbers might be bigger because of smuggling, which is not accounted for.

In January 2015 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) projected that between October 2014 and September 2015, Ghana would import 600,000 metric tons of rice to augment the country’s needs.

The USDA also noted that rice is now a major competitor of traditional staple foods in Ghana, stating that the country produces only 30 pe rcent of the rice it needs, and therefore has to import the 70 per cent shortfall.

Speaking Thursday October 1, 2015 at the launch of the second national rice festival, the Minister of Agriculture, Fiifi Kwetey said rice is the second largest cereal consumed after maize in Ghana and has become a common feature in Ghanaian diets.

“Ghana’s per capita rice consumption is currently estimated at about 58.0 kg with a current demand of milled rice for consumption estimated at over one million metric tons milled rice with about 40 per cent only produced in Ghana,” he said.

The festival, he said is part of the efforts to promote the production, marketing and consumption of rice produced in Ghana.

He also stated that the festival is to highlight opportunities for national development inherent in the production, processing, storage, marketing and promoting the consumption of high quality local rice.

It is also expected to promote a competitive local rice industry that will create wealth and jobs

“The festival will ensure that our locally produced rice is well patronized whilst encouraging our rice farmers and traders to increase production to close the deficit gap of about 60 per cent,” he said.

According to the Minister the Ghana government in its FASDEP and METASSIP policy document impresses upon agricultural development through key pillars.

He added that the government has put in place to some interventions to improve the rice sector in the country. The EDAIF rice fund which government has setup together with MoFA, GASIP programme, West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme, GCAP and OVCF are some initiatives government has set up to help address financing challenges for private sector. Also government is working on rehabilitating some of the old dam to improve the efficiency towards increasing production of rice, he said.

By Emmanuel K Dogbevi

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