The Ghana Commodity Exchange (GCX), John Agyekum Kufuor (JAK)Foundation and Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at promoting the consumption of local rice, improving its access to markets and also enhancing its trade on the commodity exchange to help boost the economy.
The signing ceremony seeks to fulfill the mission and vision of three institutions which are aligned with the development of Ghana’s Rice Value Chain.
Speaking at the event, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Commodity Exchange (GCX), Dr. Kadri Alfah disclosed that this agreement is an intensive effort by the Government of Ghana, Private Sector, Developmental Institutions, NGOs as well as other agencies to increase rice production in Ghana and help bridge the gap between what Ghanaians produce, consume, export and import into its market.
“Ghana is blessed with climate, vegetation, fertile lands to produce rice to feed ourselves and even have surpluses to export. On our part, we will work with our partners to improve the rice business, provide warehousing to rice farmers, help manage post harvest loses, support the grading certification of rice to make exports standard. We will support the industry with quality controls; provide access to market as well as access to financing,” he stated.
Dr. Alfah further added that through the signing of the MoU, GCX is determined to work with its partners to support one of Government’s flagship programmes, ‘Planting for Foods and Jobs’ under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
“We will provide raw materials for new factories for the 1D1F project and open up export opportunities for the local farmers to sell their goods and return with the needed foreign exchange to enhance our developments. It is time that we see rice as a commodity that can help us to prosper. It has a huge potential,” he noted.
The CEO hinted that GCX will improve the level of information and market data that circulates in the industry adding that farmers will have access to real time market information.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation, Baffour Agyemang Duah was confident that through this project, rice farmers will be assisted and equipped with the necessary and needed logistics to boost their work rate.
“We will assist Rice Farmers with storage which will curtail the post harvest loses, GCX will also help them know how to negotiate for good prices and the value chain stands to gain a lot from this arrangement. After today’s MoU, when we get to the field, we begin to see the changes this will bring about. We will also continue with the public education and advocacy among farmers about these new opportunities to increase their yields and produce profit from their hard labour,” he stressed.
Rice production in Ghana is one that bears enormous potentials for the economy of Ghana and the wellbeing of its people yet the challenges have held back the sector from reaching its optimum potential. But GCX, JAK Foundation and GRIB say rice farmers can no longer fear the market risks suffered for years. The partnership will go a long way to ensure that farmers produce premium quality and an assured route to the market via the GCX.
President, Ghana Rice Inter Professional Body (GRIB), Nana Adjei Ayeh II was confident that the signing of the MoU will uplift the production of rice in Ghana.
“In Ghana, 70% of rice production is on rain fed whiles 30% comes from aggregation. This is tells there are lots of problems. Within the bumper season, there is enough paddy rice but just after the season, the country gets hit by rice shortage. Paddy rice production in Ghana is around 450,000 metric tonnes but with this agreement, we will shoot up to 750,000 metric tonnes next year,” he intimated.
Nana Ayeh II also revealed that measures have been put in place to save the post harvest loses among others challenges local farmers face in the business.
Financial Analyst, Sydney Casely-Hayford added that he is confident Ghana will meet the 2023 agenda of producing, consuming and exporting its own rice for its citizens.
“It will be earlier because the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has not really got its hands around the statistics, reporting numbers as best as it can. There is a lot more in the market space they are not captioning in their reports. If they were doing so, they will realize we have a far bigger capacity for rice production than what exists. What we have also seen is that there has been a good growth of processes. Those of us milling are seeing enough requests for rice to be milled,” he emphasised.
He called Financial Institutions to come on board and provide enough creative financing for millers to get enough paddy rice from the farmers.
“If that comes into place, it will help a lot. I think the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB) is begging to get back in stride as an Agricultural financing bank and if it does it well, we can be there long before 2023,” he stressed.
He however disclosed that Agriculture is a momentum which starts slowly but becomes bigger when the volumes catch up.
“I would not say we have failed as a State but we failed to focus on Agriculture which we should have done. We kept saying we are an Agrarian and Agriculture based economy yet we did not turn our attention on it. Now, the focus is coming and people are beginning to see the results of 1 or 2 years. It will turn around quickly. Agriculture is a momentum. It starts slowly but when the volumes catch up, then it just ‘booms’ and then it flattens out again. We will get to self-sufficiency in rice very quickly. We are doing well with maize, soya is still yet to catch up to its capacity but there are so many other commodities that have been focused on. Rice is the next big thing,” he stated.