GHANA-The government of Ghana plans to start producing its local rice to offset the US$ 1.3 billion financial burden used to import the commodity annually.

Ghana is heavily dependent on imports for both food and non-food commodities creating an unfavorable balance on the import bill that now exceeds US$10 billion annually.

While little can be done about imports like iron, petroleum, and some pharmaceutical commodities, the bill can be offset through the cultivation of rice, one of the major imports in the food category.

Rice is fast emerging as a strategic cash crop and an economic tool for the Ghanaian population. Currently, Ghana imports more than 60% of its rice primarily from Thailand, Vietnam, and India.

In 2020/2021, Ghana imported 950, 000 metric tons (Mt) of rice against 500,000 Mt produced locally. However, rice consumption continues to increase due to the preference of Ghanaians for “perfumed rice” over local rice, creating a window for more imports.

According to the Ministry for Food and Agriculture (MoFA), rice consumption in Ghana was 1.45 million tons (Mt) in 2020, an equivalent per capita consumption of about 45kg per annum.

However, local production has been on a growth trajectory, increasing by 43% from 2006 to 2020 thanks to robust support from both the government and private sector players.

To align with the demand for “perfumed rice”, the government has launched policy interventions focusing on Special Rice Initiative aimed at bringing improved rice seeds to farmers across the country, as the first step in reversing Ghana’s huge rice imports.

Additionally, the MoFA has facilitated a revision of the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) to achieve self-sufficiency by 2024. Besides, MoFA and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have launched a Rice Value Chain Project to tackle Post-Harvest processes. 

Further, in a quest to stimulate interest in agriculture, the government has started a “planting for food and job “campaign as a way to advertise agriculture as a viable and job-creating activity for the youth.

Among the private sectors that will be under the government’s support is the Jospong Group of Companies. The company sent its team to Thailand in 2022 to understudy the Thai rice sector possibly to replicate the production model in Ghana.

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