US$8bn spent on rice import in 10yrs

rice import
  • Local production still wobbles around 30%
  • Gov’t plans to achieve self-sufficiency in 2023

Ghana’s rice import, in the last decade, according to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), has hit a staggering US$8 billion.

Though domestic production has been appreciably increasing, currently estimated at 30 percent, local consumption demands constantly exceeds domestic production, giving the impetus for the constant rise in imports on annual basis.

Ghana imports almost 70 percent of its rice mainly from Thailand, Vietnam, India and the USA, with an annual estimated import averaging more than US$550 million. With a current deficit of 656,000 metric tonnes, government is relying on recent adopted strategies to increase production, with an anticipated surplus of 365,302 metric tonnes by 2023.

Rice has become the second staple food consumed in Ghana after maize, with production increasing from 48,800 tonnes in 1970 to 925,000 tonnes in 2019 growing at an average annual rate of 9.03 percent, according to MoFA.

Though the figures depict high potential for growth in local production, challenges including access to finance, labour, inadequate combine harvesters, land acquisition systems and bush fires continuously threatens the crop’s production.

In the Builsa South district for instance, an average of 370 acres of rice farms are destroyed by bushfires annually. This situation has led to the loss of over GH¢1 million in revenue each year, with smallholder farmers being the hardest hit. That district is estimated to lose over GH¢5 million in revenue by the year 2025, if the trend continues without any interventions.

Being one of the first countries in the sub region to launch the National Rice Development Strategy, Ghana has already missed out on its local rice production agenda as part of the Coalition for African Rice Development policy.

That strategy, which was unveiled in May 2008, as the National Rice Development Strategy for the period 2009-2018, aimed at increasing domestic production up to 70 percent and promoting consumption through quality improvement, targeting both the local and international markets.

The strategy has ended almost three years ago, albeit, achieving an opposite target of rather a 70 percent import with the Ghanaian consuming public still largely dependent on imported rice brands.

Current gov’t strategies on rice production

Apart from the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) which has introduced some interventions into the cereal’s production through subsidized fertilizer and increased area of cultivation, from 44,000 hectares in 2017 to 175,000 hectares in 2020, government has recently introduced fresh policies and production targets to reduce imports.

Current rice sector interventions to increase production includes an inclusive rice value chain development strategy, which is ending this year, 2021. It aims to improve the livelihoods of 128,764 smallholder farmers to increase cultivation capacity.

There is also the rice value chain improvement strategy being financed by the Korean government in the Central region valued at US$9 million. It targets 5,000 direct beneficiary and 15,000 indirect beneficiaries. This programme which started in 2019, is expected to end in 2023, creating impact for farmers in Assin Fosu, Assin South, North, Twifo Atti Morkwa and Gomoa East areas.

Others include the Special Rice Initiative (SRI), Ghana Commercial Agricultural Project, Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project and several other policies to increase domestic production.


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