Wienco Ghana Limited, in collaboration with the government and other processing companies, will start buying local paddy rice across the country to save farmers the burden of having to store and market their produce when there is bumper harvest.
Already, a dedicated team from Wienco had begun making purchases in Avalavi Pwata in the Ketu North District of the Volta Region and would subsequently move to the Northern belt of the country, geared towards encouraging farmers to produce more.
Mr Kennedy Osei Nyarko, a Deputy Minister of Agriculture, made the announcement when he met some of the farmers at Avalavi Pwata to assure them of government’s commitment to building a strong rice value chain to grow the sector and improve the livelihoods of farmers.
He explained that rice was a major staple in the country but the farmers were unable to meet the demand resulting in the importation of rice to fill the gap.
Last year alone, he said, a total of 1.135 million metric tonnes was imported adding that the Government had an elaborate plan to build the capacity of farmers to increase production from the current 700,000 metric tonnes, provide equipment and facilitate the aggregation.
Over the last three years government had procured 51 units of tractor mounted combined harvesters to support the industry, Mr Nyarko said, and urged farmers to form groups to enable them to get access to those machinery.
“We have started taking the necessary steps to make the system work and envisaging that by 2022, all things being equal, we will ban rice importation. However this will be successful if the citizenry make it a point to eat Ghana rice,” he said.
He stated that the Government had commenced negotiations with 22 rice importers about its intention to ban importation of the staple once the country became self-sufficient.
Mr Joel Tsatu, the Director of the Global Agri-Development Company, said the Ghanaian rice, such as Aduanehene and Copa, was fresh, organic and more nutritious than many of the imported brands, that had been kept at warehouses for years.
He said the company had the capacity to produce more quality Ghanaian rice and urged the public to buy any of its brands from retail outlets including Melcom, adding “you will not regret buying it.”
Mr Bernard Tetteh, Accountant of Weta Irrigation Development Scheme, said the irrigation was a 950-hector capacity facility but only 880 hectors had been developed and irrigable.
It currently produced 4,400 tonnes of paddy rice, he said, and urged the public to consume Ghana rice to help improve the livelihoods of farmers.—GNA