Ghana is only 35 per cent self-sufficient in rice production, the Ministry of Agriculture has revealed. The country's average production of 150,000 tonnes is therefore supplemented by a yearly import of between 350,000 –400,000 metric tonnes.
This, according to the sector minister, Mr Ernest Debrah, has affected the country's balance of payment position negatively.
This, is contained in a speech read on his behalf at the launch of the multinational nerica rice dissemination project in Accra on Thursday.
The minister indicated that the Government could no longer continue to increase tariffs on imported rice, which currently stood at 20 per cent, since that could be passed on to consumers.
He conceded, however, that farmers in the country had not been able to increase rice production over the past 10 years due to the stiff competition posed by imported rice.
Mr Debrah said the average production since 1995 had consistently remained 150,000 metric tonnes. He said the introduction of a new drought-resistant and high-yielding rice variety the nerica developed by the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) for distribution in seven West African countries, including Ghana formed part of the practical measures the ministry had adopted to reduce the country's over reliance on imported rice.
He said it was envisaged that 4,500 hectares of land would be put under rice cultivation over the five-year project period and this would contribute about 60,000 metric tonnes of paddy rice.
He said Ghana's participation in the nerica project would enable the country to cultivate another 32,000 hectares of land to yield about 80,000 metric tonnes of paddy rice.