Ho, June 14, GNA - The Ghana Rice Inter- Professional Body (GRIB), a national umbrella organization of rice stakeholders, has met with value chain stakeholders of the crop in the Volta and Oti regions to brainstorm on how to add value to rice production.
Mr Abraham Dwuma Odoom, Vice Chairperson, Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs and Member of Parliament for Twifo Atti- Mokwa Constituency, said the meeting was among others, geared towards reducing Ghana's overdependence on imported rice while making the local cereal production and consumption more appealing to farmers and consumers.
He bemoaned how the nation spent over 1.5 billion US dollars on the importation of rice "when that money can be redistributed among farmers and value chain stakeholders ".
Mr Odoom said that the Volta and Oti regions had the potential of producing rice for Ghana if the challenges confronting the industry were surmounted.
He expressed the hope that with Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangements in the value chain consisting of input dealers, farmers, millers, tractor service providers to the marketers among others, GRIB would be ready for a smooth take off.
Mr Odoom explained that because of the profit motivating aspect of the private sector and also as an engine of growth, the project would be sustained to make the necessary gains.
Mr Derick Ayeh, President, GRIB, said though rice was the second most popular staple in Ghana after corn, the nation was not ripping the full benefit of the crop due to challenges.
He said one of the major challenges facing rice farmers was the lack of a readily available milling machine for the grain, which leads to many rice harvest going bad, plunging many farmers and marketers into debts.
Mr Ayeh assured stakeholders of government's plans to acquire solar-powered mills for the farmers by close of next year.
Nana Aka Oppong-Duah, Policy Advisor, John A. Kufuor Foundation, said the Foundation, an advocate for farmers, was ensuring that the value chain system worked seamlessly.
She said in achieving that goal of making Ghana self-sufficient in rice production, an effective collaboration was needed among partners.
Mrs Oppong-Duah said the Foundation was moving to the districts to build a functional value chain system, which would form the regional and the national systems to allow them deal effectively with governments.
GRIB is supported under the rice production module of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative.