PEASANT FARMERS have indicated that though they fully support government’s pronouncement to ban rice importation and other food crops that can be produced in Ghana by 2022, they prefer an immediate ban.
In a solidarity message to farmers on the occasion of the 35th edition of farmers day signed by Abdul-Rahman Mohammed, national president and board chairman of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), noted that adopting Nigeria’s food importation ban concept would not only help to reduce Ghana’s import bill but create employment opportunities in Ghana and stabilize the cedi, which would as well put smiles on the faces of smallholder rice farmers.
It also called for the institutional purchase of local rice by all government institutions such as the school feeding programme, free SHS, the military and para-institutions.
Also, it said “government should mandate all banks to increase their loan portfolio with low interest rate on agriculture. There should be flexible procedures for smallholder farmers to be able to access these loans,” as well as increase budget allocation and subsidies for combine harvesters, rice mills and rice packaging materials.
Again, it called for new technologies to address aflatoxin and other post-harvest challenges in rice production while bringing storage facilities closer to rice farming areas by first completing the One District One Warehouse programme, commissioning the completed ones and setting up temporary cocoons in the communities.
Additionally, PFAG appealed to government to ensure timely release and distribution of good quality fertilizer and seeds to rice farmers as well as ensuring that, stringent measures are taken to curb smuggling of same.
Further pressing issues
According to PFAG, “Smallholder rice farmers who are keen in agribusiness are apprehensive and despondent, as the rice they produced during the last crop season lies waste and possibly to the vagaries of harmattan bush fires.
“Farmers are confronted with lack of access to combine harvesters, lack of storage and exploitation by traders who have taken advantage of the desperate situation. The National Food Buffer Stock is on record in November 2019, to have publicly announced plans to mop up the surplus rice by providing minimum guarantee prices to farmers which never materialized, leaving rice farmers to their fate.
Thanking President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for his commitment to developing Ghana through agricultural modernization by introducing the “Planting for Food and Jobs”, it stated that the high appetite for imported rice had significantly contributed to rice millers lacking market for Ghana rice leading to the current rice glut in Northern Ghana.