The Ghana Rice Inter Professional Body (GRIB) has called on two former presidents, John Agyekum Kufuor and John Dramani Mahama, to add their voices to the few that are advocating consumption of made in Ghana rice.
This forms part of measures by the body to continue propagating news about the need to patronise local rice consumption as a way of supporting the growth of rice farming in the country, and also to throw light on the industry.
According to the president of GRIB, Nana Kwabena Adjei Ayeh II, the association’s increasing number of members – from 11,000 to 57,000 – indicates the rising interest for rice farming in the country; hence the need for Ghanaians to appreciate their own.
He indicated that rice was formerly cultivated in only a few areas, but has in recent times spread across the whole country – and this is a sign of the industry’s readiness to produce more Ghana rice for local consumption.
During an interaction with former President Mahama, he pointed out that he has great interest in rice farming; and it has got to the stage where it needs proper attention by every government.
“Government must step in because it is not only about growing the rice; it is also about providing the processing facility to move the rice from farms to the market. Nobody goes to buy paddy-rice to cook and eat; they want rice to be prepared so that it can be cooked. And so, between the farmers and the market, there must be enough processing capacity,” former President Mahama stated.
He added that there is a need for government to support the private sector in properly positioning itself to address challenges in the sector.
“I do think that ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ is a good thing, but we must look strategically at some crops in which we achieve self-sufficiency; it will help the economy. Right now, in foreign exchange, our cedi is going down and the dollar is going up; and that is because of the amount of rice, palm oil, vegetable oil and chicken we are importing,” he added.
Former President Mahama assured GRIB of his knowledge about the problems associated with rice cultivation and the low patronage with regard to consumption of Ghana rice, and promised to contribute his own quota by advocating patronage of local rice.
Also, former President John Agyekum Kufuor – whose foundation, the JAK Foundation, has supported GRIB since its inception – was the next point of call for the association. The former president also called on government to take the necessary steps that will see growth of the rice industry.
He reiterated that the country has got to the stage where massive attention needs to be given rice farming, since it is one of the staple foods that the country relies on. He urged the farmers to continue working to increase production, and pledged his continuous support through the foundation.