Ghana Rice Inter-professional Body (GRIB) has celebrated the 5th edition of the National Rice Festival in Accra with a call on government to introduce agriculture insurance as a guarantee to rice farmers to grow the industry.
The festival is an advocacy tool which aims at promoting the consumption of local made rice and develop the industry in terms of finding sustainable ways to market their produce.
The event also aimed at improving yields and having discussion on how to boost rice production in order to address the 40 percent shortfall of market demand, despite 200 percent increase in production in the last decade.
Last year, government set an ambitious plan to increase rice production by 49 percent, this plan was to boost rice production over one million metric tonnes.
Addressing the event, the president of GRIP, Nana Kwabena Agyei Aryeh II mentioned that to be able to be self sufficient in rice production, it was important government addresses insurance cover for its members.
He said government, through the insurance commission should introduce agriculture insurance as a guarantee to farmers to grow the industry.
“With the introduction of the agriculture insurance, the financial institutions will have more confidence to make credit available to farmers in the sector”, he noted.
To boost, rice production, Japan’s official development assistance agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)is collaborating with Kpong Irrigation Scheme (KIS) to improve its activities.
The Chief Advisor, Irrigation Scheme Management Mr. Toru Takahashi mentioned his outfit was assisting KIS in getting access to new technological tools as well as assisting the Water Users Association by way of training.
“We are training members in agronomics practices, assisting in getting immediate access to market after harvest and we shall continue to do more”, Mr. Takahashi noted.
Over the past ten years, the value and volume of food imports, most especially rice, have gone up at alarming rates.
Last year, the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto revealed that the country’s importation bill for rice had heightened to a whopping US$1.2 billion as at 2015. The figure represents a dramatic 800 per cent increase over the rice import value of US$152million in 2007.
Nana Agyei Aryeh II lamented the surge in rice importation which puts pressure on the country’s trade balance.
By Dundas Whigham