Rice sufficiency deadline at risk

non-basmati white rice
Image Credit: www.acdivoca.org
  • as uncompetitive pricing, et al negating local production
  • annual imports reach US$450m

With barely two and half years to the deadline of government’s agenda to attain national self-sufficiency in rice production by 2024, rice sector stakeholders are concerned that the plan would require extra efforts to materialize.

To ensure the sustainability and the comprehensive development of the rice local rice production, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) facilitated the revision of the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) with a goal to achieve self-sufficiency by December 2024.

But sector stakeholders, including the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), are apprehensive that production challenges, such as postharvest losses, inappropriate harvesting and threshing technologies, inadequate/inappropriate storage facilities among others, could put the self-sufficiency agenda at risk by the set timeline as envisioned by MoFA.

Equally, the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk Sharing-System for Agriculture Lending (GIRSAL) has identified uncompetitive pricing, high cost of production and inconsistent quality as some basic issues affecting the affordability and patronage of locally produced rice on the market.

A report by GIRSAL, indicates that inability to promote the quality and health attributes vis-à-vis the low visibility of locally milled rice on the market are banes to patronage. Asides these, poor quality seeds, land development and inadequate irrigation facilities (rainfed agriculture) poor quality of paddy, as well as poor agronomic practices, have all been contributing to production challenges, hence the expensive pricing of the product on the market.

A 5-kilo of locally produced-rice currently has average price of between GH¢65-70 unlike most imported brands that sells for between GH¢45 to GH¢70.

Data from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) indicates that the country imports more than 70 percent of its consumable rice. With an installed rice mill capacity of 500,000 tonnes per year for paddy rice processing, the country is only able process less than 20 percent as most rice mills are working at a very low capacity.

Per capita consumption of rice have exceeded 52kg since 2020, with a growing demand mainly driven by high population growth, urbanisation and change in consumer habits. Interestingly, about 708,000 metric tonnes of rice import was recorded same year. Indeed, over US$398 million worth of rice was imported in 2020 alone with the amount currently estimated at US$450million.

Currently, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Pakistan and China are the countries Ghana imports rice from. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, imports purchased US$282 million worth of rice from Vietam; Thailand, US$45.5 million; India, US$27.3 million; Pakistan, US$20.6 million; and China, US$5.95 million; with the USA and others contributing as well.

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