Participants in a group photograph
Joost W. van Odijk, West & Central Africa Director for GrowAfrica, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), has called on governments in Africa to show more sincerity in enforcing policies that have been put in place to reduce the massive importation of rice from Asia.
Speaking at the opening of the maiden Africa Rice Advocacy Platform (ARAP) in Accra yesterday, attended by representatives of ten (10) African countries, he said the time has come for governments on the continent to provide water infrastructure for commercial farmers in order to double yields.
“We run an analysis now and that is why we are doing collaboration with ECOWAS. We try to understand not just the individual country challenges but also more regional challenges.
“We came to the astonishing conclusion that today, per year, 5 billion Euros is spent on importing rice into Africa from Asia. This is huge money. And if you look at the volumes by country, in spite of some of the policies which have been launched, over the years, governments have not been able to close the gap. On the contrary, the gap is widening in terms of consumption versus local production of rice. So the key question is how can you fix it?”
He called for the engagement of private sector investors since they invested over a long period of time and by nature were more efficient than government.
“Government has to step in and provide infrastructure. And by this I don’t mean roads. I mean water (irrigation). And this is not something an individual company or farmer can do. Governments should be doing this and if they don’t do that you miss half of your yield potential. You can double your yield if you have proper water infrastructure in place. You can have more harvests if you have such infrastructure,” Joost added.
Paa Kow Bartels, Director of Logistics & Value Chain, Ministry of Trade & Industry, speaking on behalf of the Minister, said rice imports to Ghana was expected to hit $2 billion by the end of this year.
“Rice has become a very important staple crop to the extent that traditional root crops are playing second fiddle to rice.”
Sylvia Nyanteh, an official of the Agricultural Development Bank (adb), called on Ghanaian rice farmers to put their acts together and access funds earmarked by the bank to support rice farming.
Imoro Amoro, president of Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB), in an address, said the platform sought to increase awareness for modern rice production in Africa and the visibility of country specific rice value chains and further provide international platform for rice stakeholders to engage on prospects and challenges in the rice value chain to facilitate African economic integration through bilateral trade.
By Samuel Boadi