Rice Farmers call for more support to boost production

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Rice farming is gradually becoming such a lucrative business in Ghana as demand increases. Many farmers are now reporting impressive yields as patronage of the delicacy increases across the country. Last year the farmers enjoyed a bumper harvest and are expecting same this year.
Speaking with JOY BUSINESS at a seminar organised by the Ghana Grains Council in partnership with the JAK Foundation and the Competitive African Rice Initiative – CARI Project, Ben Kanat, a rice farmer at the Ashaiman Rice Irrigation said planting a hectare of certified rice seeds has over the years produced for him an average of about 120 bags of rice.
For him although producing rice is a tedious job, it is highly rewarding.
Another rice farmer at Dowenya in the Greater Accra Region, Emmanuel Arden is particularly excited about the fact that post-harvest losses in rice production are virtually non-existent.
“When the price for our produce is low we can store it and for more than 5 to 10 years the rice will still be in good shape. So in rice production you can never be at a loss as it pertains in other crops like tomatoes, watermelon, etc which enjoy great harvest but catastrophic losses,” he emphasizes.
The farmers are enjoying good fortunes but are calling for subsidies in farm inputs like fertilizers which they say are still expensive.
President of the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body, GRIB, Imoro Amoro says the organization is considering organic fertilizers. It is also advocating that its members resort to using compost rather than fertilizers.
He expressed concern that most farmers are now overly dependent on fertilizers in growing their crops. The phenomenon he says is because “our soils are getting weaker, and sometimes the fertilizers serve as agents that contaminate the soil. We are therefore looking at the promotion of organic fertilizers for our members since that is healthier and has a long-lasting effect on the soil.”
Regulator of Pesticides and Fertilizers at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Lawrence Korshie Alato however said, the prices of inputs like fertilizers are not controlled by government, but market forces.
“The liberalization of these agro-inputs market is controlled by the private sector and for that matter the government can only intervene in price setting. Government is however subsidizing to some extent – 89 Ghana Cedis for the NPK and 84 Ghana Cedis for Ammonia” he adds.
Policy Advisor at the JAK Foundation Ama Oppong Duah said to address the concerns of the farmers, some evidence-based recommendations are currently being compiled which will later be presented to government and its stakeholders for some interventions.
A survey recently conducted by the partners in order to identify the topmost needs of farmers according to her indicates that unavailability of good quality seeds, access to credit, irrigation facilities, among others is a major inhibition to the growth the sector.
She however, said the Foundation and its partners are taking the necessary steps to ensure these issues are addressed and emphasized the need for all the other players in the value chain to contribute their quota in ensuring that the quality of rice produced in the country meets international standards.
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