Despite several initiatives to improve rice production in the country, Ghana still depends heavily on the importation of rice. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), currently, Ghana’s domestic production only meets 40% of its total rice demand. FAO’s analyses show that Ghana imports the remaining 60% to meet its increasing rice demand.
Meanwhile, FAO is worried that Ghana is “highly susceptible to market shocks in the rice sector”. Available statistics show that the economic costs of relying on imported rice in Ghana are high and rising. According to the Oxford Business Group (OBG), the amount Ghana spent on imported rice rose from $151m to $1.2bn between 2007 and 2015. Estimates also show that between 2010 to 2019 Ghana spent $3.9 billion importing processed rice mainly from Asia.
Nevertheless, the government’s interventions have yielded some results. Data from the Ministry for Food and Agriculture show that rice production rose from 688,000 metric tonnes in 2016 to 925,000 metric tonnes in 2019.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, stated that Ghana produced 950,000 metric tonnes of rice in 2020. According to him, rice production target for 2021 is 1.1 million metric tonnes. He hinted that rice production in the country will reach 1.2 million tonnes by 2023.
Demand for rice growing at 5% per annum
Moreover, Dr. Akoto indicated that the demand for rice is growing rapidly at 5% per annum. The growth in domestic rice production is very much below the growth in demand for rice. Besides, the growth in the demand for rice is higher than the average population growth rate of about 2. 2%. Unless production improves drastically, Ghana’s rice import may go up drastically once population increases.
Luckily, the FAO has suggested some policy options that will help the country attain self-sufficiency in rice production. Also, FAO believes that these policies will help promote pro-poor and sustainable development in the rice value chain. These strategies include promotion of good agricultural practices (GAP), the reduction of crop losses, and an increase in the use of inputs and mechanization.
With the implementation of the right policies, the FAO is optimistic Ghana can increase its rice production significantly in the next 10 years. The FAO expects gross production value of the rice value chain to reach USD 856 million by 2030. About USD 258 million of the value added to be generated at the production level.
Moreover, the prospects for the value chain in terms of employment generation are huge. The FAO forecasts the rice value chain to create over 60, 000 additional jobs by 2030. Majority of the people to benefit from the employment opportunities are women and the youth. Specifically, the rice value chain, according to FAO, could create 12, 000 jobs opportunities for women and 30,000 for the youth.
Minimal environmental impact of rice production
Furthermore, the analyses show that the environmental impact of the expansion in the value chain of rice is minimal. Over the next decade, rice would create an overall positive carbon balance and emit 284 852 tCO2-e in greenhouse gas emissions. The FAO indicated that this is due to the expansion of areas, additional inputs, and improved agronomic practices.
The importance of rice in the Ghanaian economy cannot be underestimated. Rice is a staple crop in the Ghanaian diet and also generates income for many farmers in Ghana. FAO estimates that rice farmers in Ghana generate approximately $5 per day of work.
Ghana’s rice production prospects are bright especially with the implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative. However, more partnerships are also needed to boost rice production so as to reduce the import bill. One of such is the partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to invest $8 million by 2023 to improve Rice Value Chain at Assin Akropong in the Central Region of Ghana.