THE National President of the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB), Nana Adjei Ayeh, is calling on the government to invest in optimising unused valley bottoms for rice production in the country.
Valley bottoms are low-lying areas between hills and mountains suitable for rice production, as they enable farmers to control flooding and maintain the necessary water depth for rice plants.
He said that holds a great potential crucial for enhancing agricultural output and food security, which could boost economic growth and sustainability while addressing potential challenges tied to land development.
“We want the government to invest in land development to optimise the country’s unused valley bottoms for rice production. It is no secret that we need to increase the total land under cultivation to reach self-sufficiency in production,” he said.
Mr Ayeh was speaking at the 8th Ghana National Rice Festival in Accra on the theme “Increasing Production by Developing Inland Valleys (Valley Bottoms) to Meet National Demand.”
It was organised by GRIB, in collaboration with the Asian African Consortium, Jospong Group of Companies, and the John A. Kufuor (JAK) Foundation.
The festival brought together rice farmers, actors in the value chain production of rice, members of the GRIB and agricultural input dealers to network towards improving the rice industry and promote the consumption of local rice in the country.
On display at the event were a variety of rice, fertiliser, improved seeds, agrochemicals, modern farming equipment and other inputs.
He further appealed to the public to continue to patronise Ghana rice to help grow the local rice industry, adding: “I am proud of the improved quality of Ghana rice. It’s only when we all adopt Ghana rice that our sector will become fully vibrant.”
“The development of agriculture cannot be solely undertaken by any one institution- it is a collective action.
In recognition of this, GRIB will continue to work closely with public, private and development partners in delivering the needed transformation to ensure self-sufficiency and good security by building resilient food systems and supporting farmers in particular,” he added.
The Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture in charge of crops, Yaw Frimpong Addo, said rice has become one of the staple foods of this country, unlike before when rice was eaten only during Christmas.
He said, unfortunately, the country can produce only about 48 per cent of rice consumed in Ghana. Therefore, the rice festival has become so important since it helps promote the consumption of local rice.
To help meet the demand for local rice, the deputy minister said phase two of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme would move a lot of the bottlenecks in agriculture.
“We have selected certain value chains, and featuring among the value chains is rice, which we are going to ensure that lands are made available to people who are interested in farming.
So we are collaborating with groups like GRIB and the private sector to help mobilise farmers to have access to land for rice production,” he said.
He added that currently, irrigation schemes are being rehabilitated to ensure that lands are made available for farmers to harvest rice twice annually.
The Managing Director of Calli Ghana, Bernard Okutu, said despite rice being a staple in the Ghanaian diet, the reliance on rice imports remains high.
He said factors such as outdated farming techniques, lack of improved seeds, limited access to modern agricultural technology and insufficient irrigation systems have contributed to such a predicament.
To address these challenges, he said players in the sector must embrace agricultural modernisation, which involves implementing advanced farming practices, introducing cutting-edge technology and providing farmers with the necessary tools and knowledge.
“By modernising our approach to rice cultivation, we can enhance productivity, reduce post-harvest losses and improve the overall efficiency of the rice supply chain.
Additionally, empowering local farmers through training programs and providing them with access to quality inputs like improved seeds and crop protection will play a pivotal role in transforming the rice landscape. When farmers are equipped with the skills and resources they need, they become the driving force behind increased productivity and economic growth in the agricultural sector,” Mr Okutu said.
As part of efforts to boost local production, the government presented a Constitutional Instrument (C.I) to Parliament on November 21 to seek approval to restrict the importation of some strategic products into the country.
The items include rice, tripe (locally known as “yamadie” in Ghana) and diapers. They are part of a broader strategy to promote local industries and reduce dependence on foreign products.
As the government seeks parliamentary approval for these measures, the move is expected to spark discussions on the balance between promoting local industries and maintaining a diverse market for consumer goods.