Accra, May 30, GNA - The issue of the commitment of Ghanaians to the consumption of locally produced rice as against preference for imported polished rice took centre stage in Parliament on Tuesday with Mr Ernest Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture, asking members of the House to honestly admit to themselves, which rice they consumed back home.
The Agric Minister took his colleagues to task: "How many of us sitting here as members of Parliament eat locally produced rice?
"If we were eating locally produced rice we would not be here talking about the need to eat locally produced rice," Mr Debrah said while contributing to a statement made by Mr David Tetteh Assumeng, NDC-Shai-Osudoku, on the lack of market for large quantities of paddy produced by the Kpong Irrigation Project in Osudoku.
Mr Mahama Ayariga, NDC-Bawku Central, who caught Speaker Ebenezer Sekyi Hughus' eyes stood up on a point of order and said it was misleading for the Minister to say Members of Parliament were not consuming locally produced rice.
"If it is a confession that you are making that you do not consume locally produced rice then do not mislead the House," he told the Mr Debrah.
Mr Debrah, however, stuck to his position and said "charity begins at home".
He then urged Members and all Ghanaians to change their attitude and stop patronizing imported rice.
The Agric Minister said secondary schools, the Prisons and the Military, among other institutions, were consuming locally produced rice.
Mr Assumeng in his statement said there was currently about 50,000 maxi bags of paddy locked up in various warehouses in Akuse, Kadjanya and Asutsuare.
"Mr Speaker, farmers, who could not get access to the storage facilities are sleeping with the produce in their rooms."
"Mr Speaker, the farmers are wallowing in poverty as a result of lack of market to sell the major and minor produce of last year," Mr Assumeng said.
Mrs Angelina Baiden-Amissah, NPP Shama, in her contribution said it was worrying that some traders were engaged in deceitful acts by repackaging the locally produced rice as imported rice and selling them at very high prices.
Mr Abdul Rashid Pelpuo, NDC-Wa Central, said it was too bad that millions of dollars was being spent to import rice into the country. Other members, who contributed, expressed similar sentiments.