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24.01.2009 Business & Finance

Over-liberalised trade affecting rice industry - GRIB

By gna
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The country's over liberalized trade system has badly affected the rice industry and this has to be reversed, Mr. Fidelis Avogo, Executive Secretary of the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB), said on Thursday.

“Although GRIB is not advocating a blanket trade blackout, it is restating that, rice being a strategic crop needs some enabling conditions to strive and grow from its infant state,” he said.

Mr Avogo, speaking at GRIB's Fourth General Assembly Meeting said the industry was also faced with unstable market prices, adding, “more often, due to the over liberalized economy, traders buy inputs from wherever and price them differently”.

He said consumption of rice had increased sharply, doubling to 14.5 kilos per capita since the 1990s.

In 2006, total rice consumption amounted to between 450,000 and 750,000 tonnes.

Mr Avogo said a survey in 2006 estimated an urban annual consumption of 38 kilos per capita, while rural consumption stood at nine kilos per capita. The study also revealed that two regions, Greater Accra and Ashanti, were the largest consumers.

“Despite the existing potential for increasing national rice production as a result of abundant suitable ecologies, Ghana imports over two-thirds of its rice requirements which translate into 500 million dollars,” he said.

Mr Avogo urged government to establish a Rice Development Fund to help farmers in land development, which was capital intensive.

He lauded rice sector operators for their contribution towards food security and called on them to take advantage of technology to improve productivity.

“Rice among other cereals is attracting premium prices. This is a rare opportunity to the farmers that you must exploit to the full.”

GRIB is an umbrella organization of rice stakeholders and is aimed at identifying constraints, promoting market, price negotiations and profit sharing among stakeholders. It also proposes and lobbies for rice policies with relevant agencies and government.

Alhaji Naa Von Salifu, Zonal Coordinator, Northern Centre, mentioned policy sustainability, lack of good seeds, unreliable weather, high interest rates as some factors hampering the growth of the industry.

Mr Ralph Mends-Oduro, out-going President of GRIB, called on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to show interest in the activities of the group and urged members to work in unity to advance their cause.

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