Local rice producers and millers say demand for Ghana rice has gone up, following a ban on export of the commodity in South-East Asia.
The situation has compelled major rice importers to turn to Ghanaian producers to fill the vacuum created by the shortage in import of rice.
Speaking to Joy Business on the issue, the Convener of Rice Millers Association, Yaw Adu-Poku said the situation provides a good opportunity to sustain the demand and consumption of Ghana rice.
“We are of the view that the current situation provides an excellent opportunity to sustain the supply by encouraging more Ghanaians to consume made in Ghana rice”, he said.
Mr. Adu-Poku stated that because the surge in demand for Ghana rice is influenced by external factors, there is the need to quickly design home grown policies to protect local rice farmers to cushion farmers from losing, when major rice producing countries in Asia lift the ban.
“This current situation is influenced by geo-political tensions that have forced countries in South-East Asia to limit export. It tells you that we must begin to grow our local rice industry to feed ourselves since nobody will feed you when times are hard,” he warned.
He pointed out that government must begin to build the road infrastructure leading to the farm gates to reduce cost of transportation.
According to him, even though the demand for Ghana rice has increased, prices are still high compared to some imported rice.
This, he lamented is a disincentive since the major rice buyers may be tempted to abandon Ghana rice for imported rice when the global market is flooded with the commodity again.
“Initially, transporting a 50 kilogramme bag of rice from the North to the South could cost you for example about ¢10 in transportation but now it is more than ¢18 and these have all add up to the cost”.
Mr. Adu-Poku reassured that rice farmers have the capacity to supply rice to all parts of Ghana and even export to neighboring West African countries such as Nigeria if government gives them the needed support.
He mentioned for example that rice farmers are preparing for the festive season in December 2022 to supply countries like Nigeria which depends on Ghana rice to supplement its stock.