All public senior high schools under the Free SHS programme would from next term be supplied with only Ghana rice, Chief Executive Officer of the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO), Mr Hanan Abdul-Wahab has announced.
“This is mandatory and suppliers who flout this may suffer sanctions including non-payment for services provided and revocation of licences”, he told journalists at a press briefing in Accra yesterday.
Currently under the Free SHS programme, Mr Abdul-Wahab said NAFCO had been providing 100 per cent supply of Ghana rice in Ashanti and five regions in the northern part of the country “but we are going to cover the remaining 10 regions with 100 per cent Ghana rice.”
In view of this, he said two licences had been issued to Avnash Industries Ghana Limited, a major private rice distributor, for the purchase and supply of Ghana rice to the schools under the Free SHS programme and NAFCO Warehouses under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Stocks Mutualisation Programme.
The press briefing was to give status report on Ghana rice patronage and consumption and paddy rice purchases since a technical committee was set up weeks ago to address paddy rice glut and advise the Ministry for Food and Agriculture on sustainable means to reduce rice imports and eventually stop it.
It is recalled that rice farmers in the Fumbisi Valley in the Upper East Region, complained weeks ago of low patronage despite abundant produce.
The situation was said to have arisen following the decision of, Avnash Industries Ghana Limited, not to buy the rice from the farmers this cropping season due to the stock of unmilled and unsold paddy rice from previous season.
But according to Mr Abdul-Wahab following the intervention of the committee, Avnash Industries Ghana Limited had since December 15 began to mop up paddy rice from the field while another major licensed buyer was currently buying significant quantities of paddy rice for milling and on-ward supply to schools and warehouses.
On other measures put in place to arrest the situation, he said NAFCO had launched a campaign to promote the patronage and consumption of Ghana rice.
“Apart from the Ghana rice being highly nutritious and healthy, we are convinced in our minds that consuming Ghana rice can save our struggling cedi, create more jobs within the agricultural and agribusiness value chain and in the long-term help grow our economy”, he said.
With respect to the President’s directive last Friday that all public institutions must buy and eat only Ghana rice from January next year, Mr Abdul-Wahab said the company would comply and lead the crusade to get all other state institutions to do same.
After series of meetings with stakeholders, he said rice millers and marketers had agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the business while commercial banks had asked the government to provide a stimulus package as being implemented under the One District One Factory model.
“In the short term, Millers need about GH30 million to mop up all the paddy rice in the fields,” he revealed.
He said a minimum guaranteed price has been fixed for Ghana rice with a kilogram of paddy rice adjusted upwards from the current amount of GHC 1.11 to GHC1.30.
“This will mean 180Kg of paddy currently sold at GHC200 will now go for GHC 234. This GHC 0.19 increment by the Post-Harvest Committee was arrived at, based on a crop budget analysis”, he said.
“All of these measures should offer some relief to our hardworking rice farmers and all others within the rice value chain,” he said noting that the work of the committee would continue until lasting solution was found.
For his part, District Chief Executive for Builsa South Daniel Gariba said rice farmers in the region had started smiling following the intervention.
He announced that two factories would be built in the district by MOFA and Ministry of Trade and Industry by next farming season to process the rice and create jobs for the unemployed youth who would manage it.