Thousands of tonnes of local rice are presently sitting the northern part of Ghana without market, Graphic Business has learnt.
The situation, the rice farmers explained would have a negative impact on their fortunes and also prevent them from farming during the next farming season.
This is due to the fact that the farmers would have to generate additional revenue from other sources to settle their indebtedness to the financial institutions from whom they received credit from to during the previous farming year.
An acre of rice farm requires between GH¢1,500 and GH¢2,000 to cultivate, hence the situation has put thousands of farmers out of business, although the government on a number of occasions have vowed to revamp the industry.
According to the farmers bad road network, delayed harvesting, improper harvesting, threshing, drying and storage handling issues are some major challenges they face.
Mr Richard Akoko, a rice farmer from Navrongo, in the Upper East Region noted that the region had never experienced such development ever since, he started farming.
“Our biggest issue is that we do not have the capacity to even send our produce to neighbouring countries to sell, neither do we have the strength to meet the market forces within,” he added.
Mr John Akaribo, a rice farmer from the Upper East Region, also indicated that the price of local rice has reduced from GH¢120 per 100 kilogrammes to GH¢60 of the same kilogrammes of the rice at the Temale market specifically.
This situation, he said was attributable to the increase in importation of foreign rice in to the country.
Mr Emmanuel Buokanso a rice farmer at Yendi in the Northern Region, said the notion that Ghanaian rice was not tasty, full of stones and husk, therefore, makes impure and less quality as compared to imported rice is still in the minds of most Ghanaians therefore making it difficult to sell their product.
“There is, therefore, the need to create awareness on consumption of the local rice to enable farmers to make financial gains take care of our families and reduce poverty” he said.
The Programme Coordinator of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) Ms Victoria Adongo said the association had been informed about the plight of the domestic rice farmers in the three northern regions.
She said even though the phenomenon was worrying, most of the domestic rice from the northern part of the country did not go through proper milling.
She urged that the government to put premium on good processing practices such as grading, labeling, milling and good packaging to help consumers to develop appetite for local rice.
“Although the government had started processes to revive the sector, farmers currently need information on the market trend to help them sell their farm produce,” Ms Adongo who is also a local rice seller said.
The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Alhassan Ahmed Yakubu for his part asked the farmers to officially channel all their challenges to the ministry.
“We are not aware of this development therefore the farmers should come together and officially communicate the issue to the ministry, so that we would be able to deal with it,” he said.
He said he was only aware of rice farmers in the region who were complaining bitterly about the price fall of the domestic rice in the market.