Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Agribusiness, Anthony Morrison has expressed the need for government to allocate funds to the Agric Ministry that will target rice production.
According to him, there should be a one year plan in which the 2023 budget will allocate considerable funds to the Agriculture Ministry for production of rice so that by the next 8 months more rice would be locally produced.
“This current budget should allocate funds to the Agric Ministry that will target rice production for the next 8 months. We should have rice on the market for which at the end of the day, the Bank of Ghana can roll out such a policy. Even that one, it is supposed to be gradual.”Anthony Morrison
Mr Morrison revealed that the withdrawal of forex by government will not solve the fundamental problem within the Ghanaian economy. Instead, he indicated that the government should focus on investing in local production to help reduce the cost of production and ensure an increased production to make local producers more competitive.
“It is a harsh policy in the sense that when you put up such a policy, you should first consider your local capacity. As we speak now, we produce only 39% of the rice we consume in Ghana. So, if we issue such a policy and end up not having the local supply, it will turn out that you create a shortage.”Anthony Morrison
The CEO of the Chamber explained that when rice shortage occurs, the limited local supply will definitely push the price up. He highlighted this will further worsen the economic realities of most people.
“The timing of the policy too is considered as another problem, especially considering that we are getting into the Christmas season where the demand for rice peaks.”Anthony Morrison
Planting for Food and Jobs Initiative
Describing the move of government on forex as a knee jerk reaction, Mr Morrison stated that the directive was issued to give Ghanaians the impression that the Bank of Ghana is working. He noted that the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) is equally not working because it lacks direction.
“We have a policy which is the Planting for Food and Jobs which has no target. There was no KPI so at the end of the day you cannot accuse the minister that he has failed in terms of rice importation control. The minister himself cannot boast that out of his policy, he has been able to reduce rice importation by 30% or 40%.”Anthony Morrison
Mr Morrison’s comments followed information from the Central Bank to banks on its discontinued support in providing forex. The notice revealed that in accordance with the President’s directive, issued in his recent address to the nation on the Ghanaian economy on Sunday, 30th October, 2022, the Bank of Ghana will no longer provide FX support for the imports of rice, poultry, vegetable oils, toothpicks, pasta, fruit juice, bottled water, ceramic tiles and other non-critical goods.