Nana Agyei Ayeh, the President of the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB), has called on government to make the consumption of 'Ghana Rice' mandatory for the School Feeding Programme to reduce rice importation.
He said if School Feeding was using the local rice, now 'Ghana Rice' there would be huge transformation in the rice production sector.
Nana Agyei made the call at the 6th Ghana National Rice Festival in Accra organised in collaboration with the John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation (JAK Foundation).
It was on the theme; "Mobilising to Achieve Rice Self Sufficiency in Ghana, the Role of the Investor in the Rice Sector."
He said it was relevant because the Ghana rice had a lot of advantages, and was nutritious and could create jobs for the people.
"Ghana has significant potential for rice production yet, much of the potential is under-utilised due to the substantial challenges, which hinder rice farmers' access to farm inputs such as seeds and fertilizer, mechanisation and financing," he said.
This, when successful would enable Ghana achieve rice self-sufficiency.
Nana Agyei called for special allocation in the next rice subsidy to enhance their work.
"Assist rice farmers to access loans with two per cent interest," he stated.
He appealed to all stakeholders to support the Ghana rice revolution to be able to ban the importation of rice by 2023.
The President advised producers of Ghana rice to adhere to the standard of producing quality rice and assured the farmers of the GRIB's readiness to assist them with whatever help they require to make their work effective.
Prof Bafour Agyemang Dua, the Chief Executive Officer of the JAK Foundation, said Ghana had the needed resources to grow rice to feed her people and even export some.
He encouraged the farmers to support government by growing more rice to cut down on importation.
"Ghana will only achieve the cutting of rice importation by 2023, if rice farmers produce enough," the CEO stated.
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), in a speech read on his behalf by the Chief Director, commended the GRIB and its partners for doing all it takes to enhance the rice value chain.
He said every Ghanaian had a role to play in achieving rice self-sufficiency and therefore called for a change in attitude and mindset.
He said government took the needed steps to ensure that issues regarding mechanisation, fertilizer and finance were addressed to improve rice production.
The rice festival since its inception has provided the platform to create awareness of the improved quality of the Ghana rice.
It featured rice farmers from the various regions.
The farmers as well as institutions exhibited their rice and machinery.