Former President John Agyekum Kufuor is urging the government to come up with a presidential policy to improve the production and marketing of Ghana Rice around the globe.
He wants the government to re-energize its political will for the transformation of agriculture and the Ghana Rice sector which he says has developed rapidly over the years.
Some years ago, we always thought Ghana rice had stones, packaging also wasn’t very nice. So, there is this perception in people’s minds that Ghana rice is not nice. It is not aromatic and it has issues but ten years down the line, things have changed. It is meeting the international standard,” the former president who is chairman of the John A. Kufuor Foundation noted.
He was speaking when representatives of various rice value chain actors paid a courtesy call on him at his residence in Accra to present to him some new brands of Ghana Rice.
It will be recalled that the former President about 15 years ago started the campaign to promote produced-in-Ghana rice under a project which aimed to ensure “sustainable intensification of local rice.”
Ghana spends about $600 million annually importing rice. Images of unsold Ghana rice produced in the north went viral on social media last month sparking a national campaign to encourage the consumption of Ghana rice. The John A. Kufuor Foundation recently organized the Ghana Rice Festival in collaboration with the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB) at the Efua Sutherlands Park in Accra to showcase Ghana rice brands and promote their consumption.
Mr. Kufuor noted that apart from saving millions of cedis in foreign exchange, increased patronage of locally grown rice would strengthen production efforts, lead to increased investments, impact positively on the local economies of rice-growing areas and help the government achieve it’s objective of ending the importation of rice by 2024.
He said Ghana must adopt proactive measures to secure the Ghana rice industry and ensure a complete ban on the importation of rice to boost sales of local brands.
The former president urged “everybody to eat grown in Ghana rice.” “So for this Christmas, as you go out to buy your rice, please make sure you are buying rice which is grown in Ghana. Let’s buy and eat made in Ghana rice,” he said.
Nana Ama Oppong Duah who is a policy advisor at the foundation thanked the former president for helping strengthen partnerships among rice value chain actors across the country.
Executives of the rice value chain actors including farmers, millers, marketers/aggregators, input dealers, service providers, among others praised the foundation for helping strengthen partnerships among themselves.
President of the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body Nana Adjei – Ayeh revealed that some years ago, the body was almost dormant. But with the support of John A. Kufuor Foundation, “we have gotten the necessary funds to get it revived and right now it’s becoming one of the most vibrant organizations promoting rice consumption in the country.”
He called for a change in public attitudes towards Ghana rice. “Government can do as much but critically, at the end of the day, the ordinary Ghanaian also has a role to play, which is to make the deliberate decision in the national interest that, we have a problem, we have to deal with it, and we are going to begin to see a shift in our taste,” Nana Adjei – Ayeh said.