…annual rice import reaches US$500m
- 66% of foreign rice consumed currently
Being one of the first countries in the sub region to launch the National Rice Development Strategy, Ghana could miss out on its local rice production agenda as part of the Coalition for African Rice Development policy.
In May 2008, the country unveiled a National Rice Development Strategy for the period 2009-2018, with the aim of increasing domestic production up to 70 percent and promoting consumption through quality improvement, targeting both the local and international markets.
As the strategy is in its final year, local rice production hovers around 34 percent, with majority of Ghanaians still largely dependent on imported brands.
A report by the Oxford Business group indicates that domestic rice production increased by 12 percent from 2010 to 15 – consumption has, however, increased twice that rate over the same time frame.
The report adds that the country imports between US$300 million and US$500 million of foreign rice annually.
Data from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture shows the value of rice imports escalated from US$152million in 2007 to a peak of US$1.2billion in both 2014 and 2015.
In the same period, the volume of rice imports according to the Ministry, climbed from 441,000 metric tonnes to 630,000 metric tonnes and currently being estimated at 680,000 tonnes.
The situation is therefore worrying, as the country will need to design another strategy to scale up production as the December 2018 deadline is imminent.
To increase local rice production and consumption, government over the years, had been laying emphasis on scaling up programmes in regard to production, with a goal of achieving a growth rate of 20 percent per annum, to attain self-sufficiency by the end of this year.
Generally, domestic rice production has recorded a slow growth rate, fluctuating throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.
However, between 2007 and 2010, it was observed that production levels, which shot up at an exponential rate, had been falling gradually since 2011.
The high levels of production witnessed between 2007 and 2010 could be attributed to increased land area under cultivation in addition to some favourable public policies.
The policies include the fertilizer subsidy programme and the creation of better investment climate through the encouragement of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).
By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe