Accra, Dec. 13, GNA - Some Members of Parliament on Tuesday urged Ghanaians to patronise locally produced rice to sustain the local rice market. They also urged government to raise the tariff on imported rice as a means of protecting the industry against unhealthy competition. The Members were contributing to a debate on a motion to adopt a report of the Finance Committee on a request for tax exemption totalling 123,417.09 dollars on vehicles, field and office equipment in respect of the implementation of the Nerica Rice Dissemination project (NRDP). The project is multinational and being implemented in Benin, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
In Ghana, it would be implemented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture with a concessional loan of 3.5 million dollars and a grant of 206,550 dollars from the African Development Fund. The project will be implemented at Hohoe in the Hohoe district, Aframso in the Ejura-Sekyedumasi district and Nyankpala in the Tolon-Kumbungu district. It is expected to generate about 548,000 metric tonnes of domestically produced rice within five years, bringing total local production to 210,000 tonnes.
According to Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, Minister of Public Sector Reforms, Ghanaians were more interested in imported rice than the local variety, thus creating job opportunity people in other countries. He urged people to change their eating habits to ensure more consumption of the local rice.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, NDC-Tamale South, in supporting the motion, said the country was spending about 300 million dollars on rice importation and this was due to the "bad legislation" of government. The enhancement of high yielding short duration, disease and pest resistant rice production are some of the benefits to be derived under the rice project, which would support government's agriculture growth and development initiatives. The technical and managerial capacity of some 31,300 farm families and 1,000 rice farmer groups and 500 women groups are to be enhanced under the project.