Rice Farmers call for more support to boost production

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.

Ben Kanat, a rice farmer at the Ashaiman Rice Irrigation Site tells JOY BUSINESS planting a hectare of certified rice seeds could produce 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.

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