Ghana Celebrates National Rice Festival

The Ghana National Rice Festival, which aims to promote the consumption and development of the rice industry in Ghana, will be celebrated in Accra in November, this year.

The two-day festival, the second in a series, scheduled for the 13th and 14th of November, forms part of activities by the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB) to promote the production, marketing and consumption of rice produced in Ghana.

The Festival will bring together stakeholders, including farmers, millers, processors, traders, development agencies, national and international research organizations, and donors for business networking and for promoting rice produced, processed and marketed in Ghana.

Different varieties and brands of Ghana rice are expected to be showcased at the Festival which will also provide an opportunity for rice farmers, marketers and the consuming public to interact and taste different kinds of dishes that can be prepared from the Ghana rice to whip up consumption among Ghanaians and also encourage farmers to grow more rice.

It is being organized by GRIB and the Rice Advocacy Council (RAC) on the theme: “Grow, Buy and Eat Quality Ghana Rice”.

In a key note address at the launch of the Festival in Accra, yesterday, Hon. Fiifi Kwetey, Minister for Food and Agriculture, disclosed that plans were underway for Government to rehabilitate some of the old dams to improve efficiency and increase the production of rice in Ghana.

Hon. Kwetey noted that rice was not only a food crop to reduce hunger, but also one with the potential for making significant contributions to the national economy.

He said it was in recognition of this potential of rice for national economic growth that government, through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and with support from the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), established GRIB to galvanize private sector actors in the value chain to work together with government to develop a vibrant rice sector.

He said over the years, GRIB had collaborated with the Directorate of Crop Services, MoFA, to undertake activities relating to capacity building for farmers in rice production, advocacy initiatives, business linkages, equipment support, networking and promotion towards increasing the competitiveness of the local rice sector.

Presenting an overview on the Rice Industry in Ghana, Mr Nicholas Issaka Gbana, Technical Leader, Trade and Marketing, USAID ADVANCE Program, urged all stakeholders to double their efforts at developing a competitive local rice industry that will create jobs, increase incomes, reduce imports and save the Ghana Cedi.

Prof. Bafour Agyemang-Dua, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the John A. Kufuor Foundation, in a statement, said the Foundation was closely linked to the agricultural sector in Ghana.

Prof. Agyemang-Dua said the Foundation was pleased to be associated with GRIB and its activities, and was therefore, co-sponsoring the 2015 National Rice Festival.

Welcoming the audience, the President of GRIB, Imoro Amoro, described the quality of rice produced in Ghana as good, fresh and without pesticides, adding that GRIB was stepping up efforts to institute quality control mechanisms in the production of rice to meet international standards.

Mr Amoro said the Ghanaian rice industry faced enormous challenges in the areas of technology transfer, credit and seed system, and underscored the importance of research to update information on improved seed, good agronomic practices, improved packaging and appropriate technologies.

Ghana produces one million metric tonnes of rice— the second highest-consumed cereal in Ghana— annually.

The country spends more than five hundred million dollars annually to import rice due to the huge deficit in meeting local consumption demands.

Rice consumption tripled in Ghana from 577,282 metric tonnes in 2009 to 908,439 metric tonnes in 2013 while the rice import bill for the country increased from GH¢291 million in 2009 to GH¢ 756 in 2013.

The Ghana National Rice Festival was, therefore, initiated and, first, celebrated in November 2012, with the objective of boosting the local rice industry through public-private partnership and to highlight the importance of the rice sector in increasing food security, reducing poverty, and creating employment in the country.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)

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