The National Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) has tasked suppliers under the Free Senior High School programme to supply Ghana rice to schools starting next year, or face sanctions.
It gave a signal that licenced suppliers’ failure to do so will attract sanctions, which include non-payment for services rendered and revocation of licences.
Mr. Hanan Abdul-Wahab, Chief Executive Officer of NAFCO, gave the caution when he addressed a press conference in Accra on Monday about the status of Ghana rice patronage and consumption, and paddy-rice purchases.
He said the directive forms part of efforts to encourage locally produced rice patronage and consumption, and to ensure that there is 100 percent supply of it to all schools – especially those under the Free SHS.
Mr. Abdul-Wahab said, already, second cycle schools in the Ashanti and five regions of the north are covered, adding that NAFCO hopes to cover the remaining 10 regions soon.
“As a collaborative gesture, we continue to refer our licenced suppliers to local rice millers and marketers, including Avnash Industries Ghana Limited, for the sale and patronage of Ghana rice.
“We have also issued two licences to Avnash Industries Ghana Limited for the purchase and supply of Ghana rice to our schools under the Free SHS Programme, and also to our Warehouses under our ECOWAS Stocks Mutualisation Programme,” he said.
He explained that it had, through its Post-Harvest Committee, increased a kilogramme of paddy rice by 0.19 percent from the current amount of GH¢1.11 to GH¢1.30.
“This therefore means that 180kg of paddy rice currently selling at GH¢200 will now be sold for GH¢234,” Mr Abdul-Wahab said.
He said NAFCO is also in negotiation with a mobile van company to ensure produced rice reaches the final consumer.
Mr Emmanuel Asante Krobea, Chairman of the Rice Marketing Technical Committee, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), said the ministry hopes to achieve self-sufficiency in rice by 2022.
He said the distribution of Ghana rice is currently being looked at critically, in order to ensure that consumers have easy access to it.
Mr. Krobea explained that the Committee is putting in place measures to ensure importers of rice purchase the locally produced ones and distribute them through their existing channels.
He said the ministry is currently also in discussions with five financial institutions, and has signed tripartite agreements with them to provide financial support for rice millers to boost production and facilitate national development.
Responding to demands of farmers in the Builsa South district of the Upper East Region for a market and storage facilitates, Mr. Daniel Gariba – the District Chief Executive, expressed satisfaction over measures taken by the MoFA to address the challenge.
“I am happy to report that farmers are happy because Avnash Industries has come in to take the excess paddy-rice that was stored by them as of yesterday. I can confidently confirm that Avnash has started buying rice from our farmers, and this is largely due to the intervention by the Minister of Agriculture and CEO of NAFCO,” he stated.
He said with the construction of two factories by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and MoFA in the district, he is optimistic that the challenge will be resolved.