President John Mahama has said Ghana is still striving to become a net producer of rice so as to reduce the amount of rice imported from outside.
He told Ghanaians in Germany Tuesday that: “We are investing to increase rice production. We’ve brought improved seeds from all over the world, and we are encouraging rice farmers to produce more rice and so we are seeing an increase in rice production. From 2012 to 2013, we increased rice production by 60 percent, but still we are importing a lot of rice. We are not yet a net producer of rice to feed our own market,” Mr Mahama said.
The President said once the country becomes self-sufficient in rice production, it will further reduce the amount of foreign exchange expended by the Government to import rice, poultry and other products from outside.
“Today chicken and rice and potato chips and things are becoming the natural fair for Ghanaians and because we are not producing enough of it we have to spend dollars importing these and so of course when the Cedi to Dollar rate varies, it makes the cost of rice more expensive, but we are even investing in these areas,” the President said.
Speaking at the 30th National Best Farmers Day Award ceremony at Sefwi Wiawso in the Western region Friday December 5, 2014, the President said Ghana currently imports rice to the tune of US$500million every year.
“The last statistics was US$470million worth of rice,” the President decried as he urged Ghanaians to eat what they grow.
Apart from rice, US$1 billion of other produce, which are produced in Ghana or can easily be produced in Ghana are also imported. Meanwhile, the country’s yearly exports hover around US$13 billion while its imports bill stands at about US$17 billion.
The President said the development in local rice production means “we are growing more local rice and you can see the attractiveness of the rice industry by the investment that has started to be made by the private sector in this industry.”
“Several private sector business people have set up rice milling plants in various parts of the country and are buying locally produced rice and milling it not only for our local market but also for export.
“And it is my belief that if this trend continues, Ghana should become a net exporter of rice in the next few years,” President Mahama said.