Rice farmers
Credit: Alfred Owusu Boxry

Rice Production: Farmers in the Assin South benefit from KOICA’s workshop

Rice farmers in the Assin South District have been trained on good agriculture practices in rice production in a two-day training workshop at Assin Kramokrom.

The workshop was organised by the Korean government in partnership with the Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

These rice farmers were taken through the various agriculture practices in rice production from seed selection through to harvesting.

The workshop also gave the farmers and other stakeholders in the rice value chain to interact with each other and come out with policies that will beneficial to both the Ghanaian rice farmers and the government.

Rice farmers

Three farmer-based organisations from three communities in the camp-Nyamebekyere operational area of Assin South attended the workshop.

Read also: Ghana: Assin South produces 195K MT of cassava, 31K MT of gari annually

Rice production in Assin South
Rice farm in Assin South | Credit: Alfred Owusu Boxry

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Also in attendance were, Dr. Kim, Dr. Chung, Mr. Clement, National Coordinator of KOICA, Mr. Tawiah Aidoo, the district director of agriculture, Mr. Emmanuel Yeboah, the district crops officer, and Mr. Alfred Owusu Boxry, the extension officer for the operational area.

Rice production

Rice is one of the major food staples consumed in Ghana, but one in which the country is food insecure, with consumption outstripping domestic production and 66% of rice consumed is imported.

In 2020, rice, paddy production for Ghana was 973,000 tonnes. Rice, paddy production of Ghana increased from 54,900 tonnes in 1971 to 973,000 tonnes in 2020 growing at an average annual rate of 8.88%.

The economic costs of relying on imported rice are high and rising. Between 2007 and 2015 the amount spent on imported rice rose from $151m to $1.2bn, with domestic consumption supplemented by imports primarily from Thailand, Vietnam, and India.

In 2017 Ghana produced 721,610 tonnes of rice but consumption, at 1.3m tonnes, far outstripped it and left a deficit of 580,300 tonnes.

According to figures from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), the rice deficit has been on an upward trend since 2011, from a deficit of 354,762 tonnes in 2011, rising to 503,875 tonnes in 2013, to a peak of 608,602 tonnes in 2015, before falling to 577,977 tonnes in 2016.

Domestic rice production grew from 44% of total consumption in 2016 to 47% of total consumption in 2017, modestly reducing the import burden.

Rice production
Alfred Owusu Boxry, The Extension Officer at Assin South

The national rice deficit continued to grow even as the total domestic output of rice increased by 27% in the five-year period between 2013 and 2017, from 569,500 tonnes in 2013 to 721,610 tonnes in 2017.

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Imports
There is a cultural preference in Ghana for imported rice, as it is seen as being of better quality. However, Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the minister of food and agriculture, told the local press in June 2018 that the reliance on imported rice was unsustainable and underscored the need to boost domestic rice production in order to meet the demand.

The government has put in place a series of measures to revolutionise the sector and ease imports of basic commodities – notably rice – and boost exports.

This focus on boosting production has already paid off, with 2017 rice output 4.9% higher than the 687,680 tonnes produced in 2016, the fourth consecutive annual increase in output.

Rice Production

Officials attribute the increase in production to the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme and the development of irrigation schemes, and hope this is a shift to a dynamic where most of the rice consumed is locally produced.

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The outlook for domestic rice production remains favourable as PFJ and irrigation schemes continue to pay off. Under the projections for the PFJ programme, the area under rice cultivation in Ghana will increase to 260,000 ha by 2020, up from the current 239,340 ha.

Additionally, while 30,000 ha of the current area under rice cultivation in Ghana was covered by PFJ in 2017, there are official plans to increase coverage to 124,628 ha in 2018 and then to 198,380 ha in 2019.

If the results displayed in 2017 continue throughout the programme, officials expect to yield significant increases in rice output.

Similarly, the continued expansion of the area under irrigation is expected to increase the output per hectare of rice.

While poor farm mechanisation and improper post-harvesting facilities have posed a challenge to the mostly smallholder farmers in the country and led to high wastage rates, government efforts to modernise and improve production are expected to alleviate these issues.

With demand for rice expected to grow in the coming years, it will be necessary to sustain the rice production gains that were seen between 2013 and 2017, in order to turn Ghana into a food-secure, rice-producing country.

 

The Choice Press
thechoicepress.com is an online news portal that seeks to project what the gallant small-scale farmers in Africa are doing. We basically report on everything that has to do with agriculture and agribusiness, especially in Ghana.
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