Mrs Dannson, who represented the Chief Director of the Ministry at the opening of the second Ghana National Rice Festival in Accra at the weekend said although rice has become staple in the Ghanaian economy, with a per capita consumption of 58 kilograms per head, and a demand for milled rice for consumption estimated at 1.6 million metric tonnes, only 46 per cent of this is locally produced.
She said patronage of locally grown rice is increasing due to the improving packaging, absence of stones and chaff in the cultivation of varieties similar to the imported ones.
This, she said, had created opportunities for citizens to invest in the sector to invest to create wealth and jobs.
“Government does not see rice as just food to enhance food security but recognises the contribution of the crop to the national economy through foreign exchange savings,” she stated.
Mrs Dannson said the rice industry would thrive on sound value chain organisations such as the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB) that brought together all actors in the rice industry to create business linkages, networking and promotion towards increasing the competitiveness of locally grown rice and to achieve 100 per cent self-sufficiency for local consumption and export.
“The rice industry has the capacity to create wealth, jobs and support the economy, the Rice Festival will ensure that locally produced rice is patronized while encouraging the farmers to produce more,” she said.
She pledged government’s commitment to intensify efforts at ensuring locally produced rice attained its potential of hundred per cent self-sufficiency.
Professor Baffour Agyeman Duah, Chief Executive Officer of the John Agyekum Kufuor (JAK) Foundation expressed the need for Ghana as a country to be able to grow and feed itself instead of importing basic food produce, thus the need to support GRIB.
“Ghana importing basic food produce at this time is blight on us as a people, and should be reversed. It is shame” he stated.
He however commended government for its support for agriculture, which had been a major focus for the Kufuor led government and one of the focus areas of the JAK Foundation and urged stakeholders to support their efforts.
“Government is showing some seriousness in supporting agriculture, everyone should do their part to support the efforts of government as well as those of the private sector,” he stated.
Mr Harold Ntorinkansah, Chairman of the Ghana Rice Advocacy Council, who chaired the function urged stakeholders along the rice value chain to collectively work to improve the quality of Ghana grown rice.
He also encouraged the media to use their platforms to encourage consumption of locally produced rice instead of degrading it.
Some of the exhibitors at the festival include Farm Radio International, Ghana Commodity Exchange, Lolandi Rice Processing Centre, USAID ADVANCE, Wealthy Natural, Wienco Agriculture and UT Bank