The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) is urging the government to address what it describes as ‘artificial shortages’ of rice in the country following a pending Legislative Instrument (LI) to restrict rice imports.
The Association emphasizes that, while it welcomes the government’s decision to restrict the commodity and other products, including poultry, animals, vegetable oil, and tripe, there is a need to address challenges affecting the industry to curb rice shortages.
Speaking at a press briefing, the head of programs for the Association, Bismark Tetteh, cited the high cost of production, which could serve as a disincentive for local farmers to produce rice to meet the expected demand.
“Firstly, the cost of production continues to be high and unaffordable for the rice farmer. As of June 2023, the cost of production for an acre of rice costs a farmer not less than GH¢5,000. At the same time, 180kg of paddy rice is sold at GH¢700. With the low prices, farmers are still struggling to get guaranteed buyers. This development will make it difficult to attract more farmers to produce to meet domestic demand,” he said.
Bismark Tetteh also noted that access to irrigation systems for rice farming has become a major challenge. As such, the government ought to demonstrate commitment by providing adequate irrigation infrastructure to ensure the sustainability of rice production.
To address the lack of access to finance by rice farmers, the head of programs at PFAG appealed to the government to reduce interest rates on loans. According to him, the initiative will “allow private individuals to take loans with low interest to invest in mechanization, milling facilities, and the production of rice.”
Additionally, Bismark Tetteh called on the government to resolve the high cost of poultry feed and medication, which contributed over 70% of the cost of production recorded in 2022.
The Executive Director for the Association, Dr. Charles Nyaaba, called on the government to be more specific with the allocation of funds in the 2024 budget meant to support affected farmers of the Akosombo Dam Spillage.
Additionally, Dr. Nyaaba bemoaned the budgetary allocation for the agriculture sector in the 2024 budget, indicating that there was no difference in the percentage increase of funds reserved for the sector as compared to 2023.
“Computing the budget allocations made for the three Ministries, the agricultural sector budget allocation as a percentage of the total government budget in 2024 is the same as in 2023, i.e., 1.95%. While there is an increase in the actual budgetary allocation, it is still far below the expected 10% commitment made under the Maputo declaration,” he noted.
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