Local rice producers and millers say demand for locally produced rice has gone up, following a ban on export of the commodity in South-East Asia.
The situation, they have indicated, has compelled major rice importers to turn to Ghanaian producers to fill the vacuum created by the shortage of imported rice.
In an interview with Joy News yesterday, the Convener of Rice Millers Association, Yaw Adu-Poku, said the situation had provided a good opportunity to sustain the demand and consumption of Ghana rice.
“We are of the view that the current situation provides an excellent opportunity to sustain the supply by encouraging more Ghanaians to consume made in Ghana rice,” he said.
Home grown policies
Mr. Adu-Poku stated that because the surge in demand for Ghanaian rice is influenced by external factors, “there is the need to quickly design home grown policies to protect local rice farmers to cushion farmers from losing when major rice producing countries in Asia lift the ban”.
“This current situation is influenced by geo-political tensions that have forced countries in South-East Asia to limit export. It tells you that we must begin to grow our local rice industry to feed ourselves since nobody will feed you when times are hard,” he warned.
He pointed out that government must begin to build the road infrastructure leading to the farm gates to reduce cost of transportation.
According to him, even though the demand for Ghana rice has increased, prices are still high, compared to some imported rice.
This, he lamented, is a disincentive since the major rice buyers will be compelled to abandon Ghanaian rice for imported rice when the global market is flooded with the commodity again.
“Initially, transporting a 50kg bag of rice from the North to the South could cost you, for example, about 10 cedis in transportation, but now it is more than 18 cedis, and these have all added up to the cost,” he said
Mr. Adu-Poku further reassured that rice farmers have the capacity to supply rice to all parts of Ghana, and even export to neighbouring West African countries such as Nigeria if government would give them the needed support.
He revealed that rice farmers are preparing for the festive season in December to supply countries like Nigeria which depend on Ghanaian rice to supplement their stock.