Ghana has a vast arable and inland valley to boost rice production in the ecological and Savannah belts, yet not enough effort is being made to take advantage and make judicious use of such resources.
Rice is the most consumed stable food in Ghana.
The consumption of rice keeps increasing annually as a result of population growth, urbanization and change in eating habits.
However, irrespective of the opportunities that exist for the country to look at local production, it country continue to depend mainly on imported foreign rice to feed its citizenry.
Rice is produced in all the ten regions in Ghana specifically in the ecological and interior Savannah zones.
The Ghana Irrigation Development Authority GIDA in 2000 identified 32,000 hectares of underdeveloped inland valleys throughout the country that could benefit from moisture improvement technologies for food production.
Thinking unconventionally, political parties in the country have promised to ban importation of rice into the country should they be voted into power, but successive governments have failed in that regards. It has been one promise to another and mostly “vain promises not backed by action.”
Many of our political leadership have no policy whatsoever to walk their talk and bring the needed transformation in the agricultural sector.
Ghana keeps struggling in dealing with this peculiar problem of banning imported rice due to external forces and international treaties, but that notwithstanding, the country can develop a policy guide to protect its local rice production.
Ghana’s annual rice import currently stands at US$500 million. This huge revenue that is being invested in other economies could have been channeled into the local agric sector, and possibly helped to bring down the current unemployment statistics.
To end this, it will be prudent for Ghana’s Parliament to enact law to protect local rice producers’. By the power vested in the law makers by their constituents, the legislative body should enact laws that will compel hoteliers and restaurant operators to use locally produced rice to feed their clients.
At least 80% of Ghanaian rice should be served in order to cut down the importation of foreign rice into the country. By doing this, rice farmers in the country stand the chance of becoming economically empowered to increase productivity and employ more hands.
The irony of the situation is that most food vendors in many of the regional capitals do not serve local rice. The national taste and preference for local rice has now been sacrificed for foreign taste, making local producers’ redundant.
Parliament can save this situation by coming out with laws to save the local rice production.
Although, some Ghanaians complain of low quality of the local rice, the probability of adopting improved rice variety rest on our various agencies to develop quality rice seeds to farmers for use.
It packaging, branding and its processing also centers on materials readily available to enhance its efficiency. There must also be price standardization.
Again, the government should create the avenue where rice farmers can have access to logistics and equipment to enhance and improved rice production. By doing so, they can equally compete with their peers in advanced countries.
At this 21st century, rice farmers still use man power to thresh the rice. This significantly affects their yields after production as most of the grains go waste.
Therefore the availability and accessibility to farming equipment will also attract the youth and thereby reducing the high rate of unemployment.