Move to help reduce rice imports - National committees set up to ensure self-sufficiency

BY: Business Desk Report
Members of the various rice committees
Members of the various rice committees

A National Rice Coordinating Committee (NRCC) with the mandate to coordinate and create synergies among rice value chain stakeholders to boost production, processing, marketing and consumption of Ghana rice has been set up.

It has the broad objective of reducing the heavy rice imports into the country and to help boost farmer incomes and contribute to national food security.

This comes at a time when the country’s annual rice imports have been growing at an alarming annual rate of 12. 53 per cent since 1971 through to 2020.

In 2020, rice imports quantity stood at 950 thousand tonnes.

The country also spent GH¢6.87 billion on the importation of rice alone in the same period.

Chaired by the Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture in charge of Annual Crops, Mr Yaw Frimpong Addo, the 14-member NRCC has representatives from the sector ministry, the ministries of Finance, Trade and Industry, Local Government, the Ghana Rice Inter-professional Body (GRIB), and the John A. Kufuor Foundation as members.

In his inaugural address, Mr Addo gave an assurance that the government was committed to making Ghana self-sufficient in rice production.

He said the establishment of the committee emphasised the government’s commitment to address the rice demand and supply gap issues.

Mr Addo said the government would continue to support the rice sector with the necessary tools to ensure productivity enhancement and quality improvement through the installation of processing facilities and efficient domestic marketing systems.

“These call for a holistic approach and strenuous efforts by all stakeholders to work tirelessly to achieve the intended target,” he noted.

Sub-committees

In a related development, two other subcommittees were inaugurated.

They are the policy sub-committee to be responsible for giving policy direction with respect to emerging technical issues that require executive interventions while the Technical sub-committee will be responsible for all rice development initiatives in-country.

The 23-member technical sub-committee has members drawn from various directorates of MoFA, Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana Investment Promotion Council, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, GRIB, National Seed Traders Association, Hopeline Institute, among others.

The tasks of the committees include harmonising the development and implementation of rice research and development programmes and projects nationwide to improve their management.

They are also expected to work towards developing common strategies to address challenges, explore opportunities along the rice value chain and oversee the preparation of Rice Sector Development Policy.

It will additionally provide guidance for the implementation of the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) and other rice-related programmes and projects. The committees will help set up an up-to-date rice database and collaborate with the sub-region, regional and international organisations in rice sector development

“The respective committee members have a duty to serve and, therefore, are charged to work assiduously to realise the goal of developing and implementing a national rice strategy that will enable Ghana achieve the goal of self-sufficiency by 2024,” the deputy minister said.

Background

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), with support from the Coalition of African Rice Development (CARD), formulated the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) with a goal of doubling domestic rice production within a 10- year period (2008 - 2018).

Ghana was able to attain the goal of doubling its domestic rice production in line with the NRDS during the first phase of CARD largely by area expansion than productivity.

The second phase of CARD (2019 – 2030) has a goal of doubling domestic rice production for all CARD member countries in line with the RICE (Resilience, Industrialisation,Competitiveness, Empowerment) approach.