Govt takes steps to increase local rice production

BY: Mary Mensah

The government has put in place interventions to scale up rice production in the country.

To that end, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has developed a national rice seed road map to ensure national self-sufficiency in quality rice seed production by 2018.

The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Clement Kofi Humado, who announced this in Accra yesterday when the ministry took its turn at the Meet-the-Press series, said the average annual rice import bill amounted to $306 million.

He said domestic production stood at 46 per cent of total supply, with the shortfall of 54 per cent being met by imports.

He said the mission of the ministry was to achieve a rice production growth rate of 20 per cent per annum and help the country attain self-suffiency and reach a surplus of 13 per cent, equalling 111,940 tonnes.

Tomato Production

On tomato production, Mr Humado stated that it was estimated that Ghana produced over 300,000 tonnes of tomatoes and 90 per cent of it was consumed locally.

However, the country depended largely on regional imports for vegetables during the off season, with imports of between 70,000 and 80,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes coming from neighbouring countries, he indicated.

“To achieve self-sufficiency in tomato production, the ministry is partnering with the University of Ghana for adaptive research into high value tomatoes and other vegetable crops under protected systems in Ghana,” he said.

Livestock and poultry production

Regarding livestock and poultry production, the minister said Ghana’s total meat imports rose from 97,719 tonnes in 2012 to 183,949  tonnes in 2013, saying over the last five years it had cost the country an average of $200 million annually to import meat and meat products, with poultry constituting about 80 per cent of the imports.

He said in order to address the situation, the government was to enforce import regulations in order to curb excessive imports of unwholesome poultry and other meat products into the country and initiate the broiler re-vitalisation project aimed at boosting local production of broilers.

Mr Humado stated that other interventions underway included the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project (GCAP), the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO), the Youth in Agriculture programme and the Export Marketing and Quality Awareness Project (EMQAP).

Ghana’s average annual rice supply is 717,361 metric tonnes.

The rice import bill amounts to $306 million.