Rice farmers in the Atwima Nwabiagya District in the Ashanti Region have appealed to the government to subsidise the cost of planting materials to enable them to produce more for local consumption.
They explained that many rice farmers were unable to afford the cost of certified seeds, and as such used unapproved and low yielding seeds for planting.
That, they said, usually resulted in low quality yields which the market often rejected.
According to the farmers, if they received the government’s assistance in the form of subsidies and early release of fertilisers they would be able to step up production and contribute to a reduction in rice importation.
The concern of the farmers was raised during a field trip and demonstration on a rice farm at Sokwai in the Atwima Nwabiagya District.
The trip was organised by the Crop Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-CRI) for rice farmers from three communities in the district and was aimed at exposing the farmers to new varieties of rice released in 2017 as well as educate them on good agronomic practices.
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The farmers admitted that there was high demand for local rice but their inability to afford inputs for their work was making it difficult for them to meet the demand.
The Chairman of the Rice Millers Association in Atwima Nwabiagya, Mr Maxwell Ayirebi, appealed to the government to release fertiliser subsidy coupons to the farmers in time in order to speed up processes of production.
He said very often they got the coupons very late and at a time they did not need them or when there were no fertilisers in the depots.
Furthermore, he said there was the need for the government to invest in rice mills and assist the private sector to bring modern mills into the country.
“We are not asking that it be given to us for free but if the government could assist us with credit facility to buy them and pay back later, it will be of great help to the rice industry,” he said.
He commended CRI for releasing the improved rice varieties promptly as it helped rice farmers to grow more rice.
A Senior Research Scientist and Rice Breeder at the CRI, Dr Maxwell Darko Asante, who took the farmers around the farm said the project to develop new rice varieties for the market was a collaboration between the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) and the CRI and was funded by the African Union.
He said the CRI had developed six new rice varieties that were being tested at the demonstration farm to give opportunity to farmers to observe their performance.
The new varieties are Emopa, Enapa, Kantinka, Boafo, Mpuntuo and Datey.
Dr Asante said the new varieties were high-yielding and disease-resistant, and therefore good for Ghana’s climate.
He reiterated the call by the farmers on the government for support to produce more for the market.