We need concessionary financing to boost rice production – stakeholders

Agric Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto

The president of the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB), Nana Kwabena Agyei Aryeh II is admonishing government to consider giving more concessionary financing to rice farmers to boost production of the rice industry.

According to him, this will be the only sure way to contribute to the collective goal of government’s quest to reducing the high level of rice importation that is costing Ghana an alarming revenue.

Speaking to the Goldstreet Business, Nana Agyei Aryeh II mentioned, the challenges facing rice farmers are enormous and it needs the full corporation and support of government to enable them produce more to reduce Ghana’s rice importation bills.

“If we are able to get financing at a very low rate, the rice industry will boom and government wouldn’t have to import rice”, he said.

Challenges

Aside financing, Nana Agyei Aryeh II further noted that agro-inputs and irrigation are some of the problems facing the rice sector.

He explained it is improper for a chunk of rice farmers to depend on rain-fed irrigation and entreated government and major stakeholders in the sector to pay the needed attention to the production of local rice to boost the economy.

“We are not asking for very sophisticated irrigation methods, but the basic irrigation can be carried at the district assemblies to enable us wane ourselves from rain-fed irrigation”, he noted.

National Rice Festival

The upcoming event of the 5th conference on the National Rice Festival will be held on November 9, 2018 in Accra, with the Agricultural Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto as the Guest Speaker.

The president of the group is therefore calling for greater intervention by the major stakeholders to contribute their quota aimed at boosting the rice industry.

The event which will be attended by rice farmers across the country will seek to promote quality local rice brands for consumption, project what occurred during the farming season, deliberate and review approaches that would lead to the growing and increase in yields. It will also engage farmers to know the exact strategic plans for the coming years as well as their welfare.

Background

Over the past ten years, it is estimated that the value and volume of food imports, most especially rice, have gone beyond alarming rates.

Last year, the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto revealed that the country’s importation bills on rice has heightened to a whopping US$1.2 billion as at 2015. The figure represents a shocking 800 per cent increase of US$152million in 2007.

Nana Agyei Aryeh II lamented the surge in rice importation makes the economy vulnerable to the increase of food commodity which puts pressure on the country’s trade balance.

By Dundas Whigham