The Chief Executive Officer of Citi FM/TV, Samuel Attah-Mensah has declared himself a campaigner for the consumption of locally-produced rice in the country.
According to him, this is to help reduce government’s expenditure on rice imports by at least 50% in the next two years.
Ghana spends over GHS 1.1 billion annually on importation of rice.
“I have appointed myself a campaigner for the consumption of locally-produced rice to reduce government’s expenditure on rice imports by at least 50% in the next two years. It is definitely possible,” he said.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show on Monday, Mr. Attah-Mensah called on stakeholders within the local rice industry to come up with effective strategies to overcome the several challenges facing local rice farmers and help Ghana achieve self-sufficiency in rice production and consumption.
Mr Attah-Mensah who returned from a visit to rice plantations in the Northern Region over the weekend where he interacted with many farmers, is fortified in his conviction that the country has what it takes to be self-sufficient when it comes to consumption of rice.
He thinks the country is wasting its resources on the importation of rice and this is a great disservice.
“We are doing ourselves a big disservice by using our hard-earned dollar to pay for rice from other countries. And I dare say that no matter what explanation and justification people give, if you are able to convince me about that, I may just ascribe it to laziness. It is a waste of our resources to be importing rice into the country,” he said.
Ghana’s voracious appetite for imported rice according to analyst have an apparent negative effect on the national economy.
According to Mr. Attah-Mensah, any attempt to reduce or halt the over-dependence on imported rice must be considered as a welcome piece of good news.
“If we really want to engage our farmers and create employment, rice production should be the low hanging fruit for the government,” he said.
Though it is one of the four main cereals produced and consumed in Ghana along side maize, millet and sorghum, many believe that efforts made in the past to resolve the rice importation puzzle virtually failed to produce the desired results rendering it a seemingly intractable enterprise
In terms of total output of cereals (i.e. 1.6 million tonnes/year) maize contributed 59 percent, sorghum 19.6 percent, rice 10.8 percent and millet 10.6 percent.
The Akufo-Addo government earlier this year announced that, Ghana is to become self-sufficient in rice production by the year 2025.
The announcement which was part of of the government’s newly introduced initiative on rice production, strategically structured as an arm of its flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme, is aimed at boosting the production of the crop in the country.
But Mr Attah-Mensah who is also championing Citi FM’s latest project dubbed ‘Operation Feed Yourself’ aimed at encouraging Ghanaians to take up subsistence farming, and also consider it as a viable business that can empower them economically, said “there’s no sense at all in importing rice into Ghana. We’re wasting resources and doing our hardworking farmers a huge disservice.”
He is of the view that “if we really want to engage our farmers and create employment, rice production should be the low hanging fruit for the government.”
This is year alone, he has led his media houses, Citi FM and Citi TV, on crusades to encourage the consumption and patronage of made in Ghana products; the ‘This is Ghana’ exhibition which brought together over 70 local entrepreneurs and manufacturers created space for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country to showcase their products. Many of these indigenous start-ups which spanned the agribusiness, technology, arts and crafts, health, food and beverage sectors showed and sold their products to the general Ghanaian public.
Another such event was the ‘Ghana Rising Conference’ which brought together thought leaders in industry to brainstorm on how indigenous businesses can be raised to world-class conglomerates.
Local rice farmers bemoan lack of buyers for their produce
Rice farmers operating in the Fumbisi Rice Valleys in the Builsa South District of the Upper East Region, are asking government to get them ready market for their produce.
The farmers say their produce is getting rotten on the farms due to lack of ready market.
According to them, if urgent steps are not taken to address their concerns, their investments will go waste.