The 3rd Ghana Rice Festival has been launched with a call on government to close the inland borders that have been opened to bring in more foreign rice as there are a lot of porous inland unapproved routes for smuggling.
“We want to plead with government on behalf of our rice farmers to close the inland borders that have been opened to bring in more foreign rice when we still have porous inland borders with lots of unapproved routes for smuggling.
“This development is a contradictory to government’s position to promote the production and consumption of the country’s local own foodstuffs,” said the President of the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body, Mr. Imoro Amoro at the official launch of the 2016 Ghana Rice Festival held in Accra.
Mr. Amoro explained that the deficit required to close the gap for rice demand in the country should be passed through the ports which have more efficient security system to monitor the collection of taxes required on the products to avoid unfair competition to the local rice farmers which lead to loss of jobs and poverty.
Available statistics has shown that from 2013 when inland importation of rice was banned, there has been tremendous improvement in local rice production from 481,000 metric tonnes in 2012 to over 641,000 metric tonnes in 2015 representing an increase of about 56 percent of demand currently.
Outlining the local rice industry challenges, Mr. Amoro explained that the industry continues to face limited access to mechanization equipment and service to rice farmers and processors, limited access to concessionary financing by rice value chain actors, limited access to quality rice seeds to rice farmers as well as limited commitment by government to use its purchasing power to boost demand for local rice procurement by public institutions, government events to promote the consumption of local rice.
Commenting on the upcoming rice festival slated for October 7th and 8th 2016, Mr. Amoro explained that the festival is geared towards the promotion of quality Ghana rice consumption and its health benefits to consumers.
The festival, under the theme “Eat Quality Ghana Rice For A Healthy Life” with the slogan “Eat Ghana Rice !!! It’s Fresh And Tasty!!!, is among other purposes to promote a competitive local rice industry that is creating wealth and jobs for Ghanaians and the need for all Ghanaians to patronise the quality brands on the market with the advantage of fresh ,tasty, and healthier rice.
The festival which is an open public event will showcase rice paddy production on the farm, processing of the rice, brands of Ghana rice, various rice dishes prepared qualified chefs in the country.
The event is expected to exhibite various brands of white and brown rice, and also parboiled rice, mechanization equipment’s and inputs required for rice production.
Other activities at the festival will also include rice health walk, Ghana Rice cooking competition, free Ghana rice sampling by the public, Ghana rice quiz with prizes to be won, a float through the principal streets of Accra and Tema.