The government is taking steps to boost confidence in the rice sector by addressing the issue of gluts and ensuring that rice farmers get value for money and are motivated to increase production, the Ghana News Agency has learnt.
In pursuit of that agenda, and to improve the rice value chain, farmers were being incentivised to produce more paddy rice, while solar-powered millers have been procured for processing, all in an effort to prepare the country towards reducing rice imports.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency on Monday, Mr Issa Alhassan, the Press Secretary to the Minister of Food and Agriculture, said the government took delivery of four millers in December and dispatched them to four strategic rice farming areas to address the problem of inadequate capacity for milling paddy rice.
He said the millers, which have been dispatched to New Edubiase and Ejura, both in the Ashanti Region, Yamoransa in the Central Region and Fumbisi in the Upper East Region, were part of efforts by the government to boost the cultivation and consumption of rice locally.
“With the millers around, after harvesting farmers can mill and wait for marketing. This will avoid the incidence of fire burning produce of farmers, issues of moisture and post-harvest losses,” he said.
Currently, he said, the installation of the milling facilities were nearing completion and would be used to mill the paddy for the up-coming dry season as a pilot to test its efficacy and then would be upscaled to other rice producing areas in the Upper East and West regions.
In addition to the four millers, Mr Alhassan said the government had received over 1000 small multipurpose shellers that could process rice. Commenting on the recent fire, which ravaged the produce of some rice farmers, he hinted that the government was working with the leadership of Peasant Farmers Association (PFA), having already received the details of the affected farmers and preparing for them.
“This is a natural disaster and livelihoods have been lost, so we will put them on some special incentive arrangement and cushion them through the supply of inputs such as seeds and fertilisers,” he added.
Mr Alhassan said that the sector Minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, had set up a rice technical team made up of importers, millers, processors and representatives from the Ministry of Finance to discuss the ministry’s drive towards self-sufficiency in rice production by 2022.
The committee would come out with a comprehensive solution to post harvest losses, processing, marketing, and distribution to end rice gluts.
He said the committee made up of the Finance Ministry, National Food Buffer Stock Company, Ghana Inter Professional Rice Body, Jak Foundation, Rice Millers Association, GCB Bank and other banks commenced work last year and almost ready with their plan.
Mr Charles Nyaba, the Programme Officer of the Peasant Farmers Association (PFA) speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency commended the government for taking steps to ensure the smooth running of the value chain.
He said his outfit would continue to work with the state to better the lives of farmers and urged the government to collaborate more with farmers through PFA especially on the rice technical committee to ensure that the concerns of farmers were captured.
Regarding the new solar-powered milling facilities that were being piloted by the government, he said they would really help rice farmers.
“One of the major problems disturbing milling facilities over the years has been the issue of power. If the new ones have the capacity to deal with the challenge, then it will be the best,” he added. GNA