Increase in rice production – the role of standards


Rice has become one of the staple foods consumed by indigenes of Ghana. Over the years, rice has become essential to Ghana’s agriculture and economy as it accumulates nearly 15 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The rate at which rice is produced locally in Ghana is less than the consumption rate; hence, its high demand, which has led to its importation to meet the consumption needs of Ghanaians.

Due to this, the government is initiating measures to reduce the importation of rice and rather encourage the domestic production of rice in the country.

The government recently announced that it is instituting measures to help develop the rice production industry. The Bank of Ghana’s directive to stop forex trading is an example; and more recently, the government’s decision to encourage foreign investments to establish rice farms across the country to boost local production, not only to meet the increasing demands for rice products in the country, but also to help stabilise the Ghanaian currency by drastically reducing rice importation.

Data available indicates that Ghana currently consumes about 1.2 million metric tonnes of rice yearly, which is mainly characterised by imports as local production is unable to meet the demand. To meet the consumption demand, the government’s intervention to establish more farms and improve rice production is timely and necessary.

The success of all the measures being put in place by government to minimise rice importation and increase local production hinges on standards.

Standards are simply requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that are used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are safe for consumption and fit for their purpose.

The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) is an agency of government established by law, and it is responsible for developing, publishing and promoting standards in the country.

It does this through standardisation, metrology and conformity assessment activities – inspection, testing and certification – to ensure the quality and safety of all products.

The GSA has developed standards for rice, which applies to paddy rice and milled rice, and all are for human consumption. Paddy rice is the raw product resulting from threshing with the husks, whereas milled rice is obtained after the paddy has gone through sufficient milling to remove the husks and the bran.

The standards specify the requirements and methods of sampling and testing for the rice. The standards also provide criteria for grading the produce into various grades depending on quality parameters. These standards have also been converted into pictorial versions – illustrated forms –to simplify the seemingly technical content of the documents for easy understanding and application by all categories of stakeholders, including farmers and harvesters.

Aside from the development and provision of standards for rice, the authority also has various laboratories within the Food and Agriculture (Testing) Department that test for pesticide residues in the rice, mycotoxin contamination, metal contamination, among other quality parameters that are key to check the wholesomeness for rice. The testing laboratories are all ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited.

There’s also a Metrology Directorate that ensures that measuring equipment used within the rice value chain, especially moisture metres, are calibrated to guarantee accurate measurements.

The authority also actively and frequently engages and supports the rice value chain actors through training and sensitisation programmes. The GSA, through its diverse expertise, participates and corroborates in all rice development programmes and projects; thus, contributing to improvements in the rice value in Ghana.

Standards are the engine of growth of industry and production. It is, therefore, important for government to recognise the importance of standardisation in championing a self-sufficient agricultural sector which can help bolster the economy by ensuring that rice produced in Ghana is at par with imported rice as far as the quality and safety parameters of the produce are concerned.

The writers are with the PR Department, GSA

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