The Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB) has charged farmers to produce good quality paddy-rice in line with efforts to promote locally produced rice.
In an interview with the B&FT, Imoro Amoro — GRIB President, bemoaned missed opportunities in the rice sector due to inaccurate consumer perceptions about local rice, adding that farmers can do more to dismiss such thoughts from the minds of consumers.
“We should disabuse our minds from the perception that the rice produced in Ghana is of inferior quality. The most important thing that farmers can do is produce quality paddy-rice. We are producing for the market, and because of globalisation we can never close our eyes to the impact of the external world on our market. So, to be able to compete with others in the market and eliminate the idea local rice is inferior, we need to produce good quality rice that meets the expectation of consumers,” he said.
He further stated that his outfit is engaged in training farmers on how to use modern tools and methods of production to boost output in the sector.
“We are training the farmers with a system known as rice intensification — a system based on transplanting instead of the traditional broadcasting method, whereby one seed can grow so much rice and the paddy also comes out clean and of very high quality. So this is what we are doing to improve the quality of the local rice,” Mr. Amoro said.
On his part, Harold Ntorinkansah — GRIB Chairman, said access to funds must be eased for farmers to enable them tap the full potential that exists in the rice sector.
He decried how the Export Trade, Agriculture and Industrial Fund (EDAIF), which is supposed to address some of these challenges, has not been able to do so because of the mechanism under which the fund operates.
“There is a lot of money at EDAIF, but farmers are not able to access it because the funds can only be accessed through a bank. And as you know, financial institutions are also private firms that are in for profit. So if you ask farmers to go to financial institutions for funds, they will be crowded out by high interest rates.
“So for me, I feel the best way to go about this is to create a direct access where they would not have to go through all those processes before they get the funds. Hence, an association like GRIB can stand in for farmers and guarantee for them, so that they can access the funds directly from us without necessarily having to go through a bank,” he said.
Statistics show that rice consumption in the country is estimated at 770,000 metric tonnes per year, with an estimated US$500million spent on imports yearly. Anecdotal evidence suggests Ghanaian urban consumers are willing to pay 113 percent premium for imported rice.