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Opinions of Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Columnist: thefinderonline.com

Rice Festival is good but…

Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB) and the Rice Advocacy Council (RAC) recently organised the Ghana National Rice Festival, on the theme ‘Grow, Buy and Eat Quality Ghana Rice’.

The aim of the festival is to promote the consumption of locally-produced rice and the development of the rice industry in Ghana.

The two-day festival, the second in a series, formed part of activities by GRIB to promote the production, marketing and consumption of rice produced in Ghana.

Different varieties and brands of Ghana rice were showcased at the festival, which also provided an opportunity for rice farmers, marketers and the consuming public to interact and taste different kinds of dishes that can be prepared from Ghana rice, to whip up consumption among Ghanaians and also encourage farmers to grow more rice.

This year, GRIB plans to set up 10 Rice Business Service Centres in highly-concentrated rice-producing areas in Ghana to address the problem of low productivity along the rice value-chain in Ghana, emanating from the challenge of low access to inputs and its distribution, access to credit and market, technology and equipment services, among others.

It also plans to improve the quality and marketability of locally-grown rice through the development of certification for both paddy and milled rice.

The importance of rice, both as a food crop to reduce hunger and as a major contributor to the national economy, cannot be underestimated.

The local rice industry has the capacity to create jobs and wealth. Statistics indicate that about US$500 million is spent annually on rice imports.

This money would remain and support the national economy if the industry was supported to grow.

The local production of the produce falls below demand, creating a lucrative market for imported rice.

The irony of our situation is that Ghana abounds in arable land for the cultivation of paddy rice and other varieties of the staple.

Like the needle in the midst of tonnes of fabric but which is always naked, Ghana has the capacity to produce rice for local consumption and for export, yet we are always in want of the produce, necessitating large tonnes of imports.

The country stands to gain immensely from the mass cultivation of rice because, while the local market exists, there is the potential for export to the sub-region and beyond.

It is not going to be easy to break into the cartel of rice importers and get our people to patronise local rice.

The journey will be long and rough but if we are determined to change our destiny for the better, we can break away from the past.

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