A survey carried out by the Ghana Rice Inter-professional Body (GRIB) this year has revealed that 68 percent of rice farmers are unaware of the existence of National Rice Standardization (NRS), developed by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA).
The introduction of rice standardization is to ensure that rice that is produced locally is of good quality and thus capable of competing with imported rice that will subsequently lead to reduction in the volume of rice imports.
The 68 percent of respondents unaware of standardization include farmers, producers, marketers, millers and a host of other stakeholders selected from the regions in which rice is grown, processed and marketed. They all fall within the private sector; whereas the 32 percent who said were aware of rice standardization were all from the public sector, that is district assemblies and the Agriculture Ministry.
This development, some stakeholders noted, could be a big challenge that could hamper the enforcement of the NRS, stressing the need to continuously educate the farmers and all people in the value chain on the existence of rice standards.
To bridge the gap, GRIP in collaboration with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), district assembles, John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation and a number of stakeholders have committed their readiness to begin an immediate sensitization process across some selected areas of the country where rice is grown to educate the farmers.
The sensitization process is expected to last from May to November 2019, GRIB president Nana Kwabena Agyei Ayeh II told the Goldstreet Business at a workshop organized by rice stakeholders. It will be carried out through the community radio stations as well as printed leaflets which will be distributed to literate farmers.
The enforcement of NRS should result in the use of certification logos affixed to all bags of rice produced locally in order to certify their quality and approval by the FDA.
Earlier, GRIB undertook a research study and its outcome raised a number of concerns which saw the need to carry out a further survey to better understand the situation and propose recommendations.
According to the rice body, the non-adherence to standards and the seeming lack of enforcement of standards in the production, processing and packaging which has resulted in the inability of local rice to compete with imported rice in the market informed the decision to carry out further research.
By Dundas Whigham