Kennedy Nyarko Osei, the Deputy Agric Minister has indicated that it is in the offing of government to either ban or drastically reduce the importation of rice into the country by 90%.
Speaking in an interview, the Member of Parliament for Akim Swedru Constituency, also noted that the country currently produces about fifty percent of rice consumed in the country under the incumbent government.
This, he indicates will steadily increase in the coming years, further commending the Akufo-Addo led administration of performing better than the previous government.
“Before we came to office, I mean 2016, milled rice, they [NDC] were doing just 474,000 metric tonnes in terms of milled rice. In terms of the paddy rice, they were doing about 660,000metric tonnes of paddy rice. And we have moved it.
“If you look at 2017 we did a little about it, 2018 we moved to 530, 2019 we’ve moved to 638 metric tonnes. And if you are to compare this to our annual consumption rate, we are doing almost about 1.32 million metric tonnes of rice as annual consumption rate.”
In his view, the plausible growth in rice production would ensure that the industry would engender the country in becoming self-reliant on its own rice produce in three years.
“As I speak, we’re doing almost about 50% of annual consumption, locally. And our target is by 2023, we should be able to meet our demand which is about 1.6 million metric tonnes.
“Which is why we have given ourselves a target that by 2023, we are going to ensure that importation of rice into this country either it is scrapped or minimized by 90%. If you want to import, it shouldn’t be more than 10%.”
Conversely, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) spokesperson on Agriculture, Michael Harry Yamson, issued a quick rebuttal on the assertion made by the Deputy Agric Minister.
He intimated that, the touting for Planting for Food and Jobs by the incumbent government is a reflection of efforts put in by the previous administration, which is yielding the results.
“We do say that government is a continuum, and so I’m not shy or in any way disappointed if the agricultural sector has benefitted from the foresight of the last NDC administration. And I’ll say that kudos to my colleague for the growth that has been recorded.”
The former United Nations Senior Government Advisor, Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah, in an interview on November 20, 2019, urged the government to initiate policies that will support the demand and production of local rice.
He asserted the over-reliance on foreign rice as against locally sourced as one which would not augur well for the sector, calling for the implementation of a directive.
“All we need is a Presidential directive that is enforced, we don’t need to go to Parliament for legislation. A Presidential directive can simply direct all state institutions subverted by the government to divert from foreign rice to consume local rice. Within a short time, you’ll see the dramatic change that we will see in the rice sector”.
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