The Commodity Brokers Association of Ghana (CBAG) president, Yaw Ohemeng Kyei, has called on government to introduce a 20 percent quota on rice imports into the country.
Mr. Ohemeng Kyei said he does not understand why the Ghana Rice Development Strategy (G-NRD) projects to end rice imports by the year 2023 but government is not doing anything to progressively reduce importation of rice – noting that Ghana can produce 80 percent of the approximately 1.5 million metric tonnes of rice consumed in the country annually.
“The annual per capita rice consumption of 3.5 percent per annum is even greater than the 2.5 percent per annum growth in population. That is a goldmine we can explore, especially now that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) has commenced,” he stated.
The president of CBAG, speaking in an interview with B&FT on the listing of rice on Ghana’s Commodity Exchange, highlighted that Ghana’s rice production for 2008 was 181,000 metric tonnes while imports were 395,000 metric tonnes. This development means local production more than doubled in 2013 to 393,000 metric tonnes; however, imports increased to 638,000 metric tonnes.
In 2020 rice production was 940,000 metric tonnes, and looking at the rate of growth in rice production he said: “We can assume rice production in 2021 will not be less than 1,200,000 metric tonnes. If total consumption of rice is around 1,500,000 metric tonnes, then we can place a quota of 20 percent on imported rice in order to strengthen and grow our local rice production and prepare for export.”
He noted: “Nigeria banned importation of rice through its land borders at a time it had not listed rice on the Nigeria Commodity Exchange; however, Ghana has listed rice on its Commodity Exchange and that means rice in Ghana has been graded, quality assured and price determined scientifically.
“If these conditions are right and rice traded can be compared with any international rice, and our sufficiency rate is 80 percent, what is government waiting for,” he quizzed.
He disclosed that the Agric Ministry in 2020 promised to ban imports of rice within two years. This move, he said, is not prudent. However, he reiterated that government must rather impose a quota starting from this year 2021, of 20 percent on imported rice, then a 10 percent quota in 2022 before an outright ban in 2023.
A quota of 20 percent on imported rice, according to Mr. Ohemeng Kyei, will translate to increased employment of over 200,000 people in the local rice value chain; reduction in inflation to at least 1 basis point due to economies of scale; correction of balance of payment challenges and inflows of foreign exchange, as rice may be exported due to AfCFTA.