Ghana has set a target of three years for the country to put a stop to rice importation.
This was disclosed Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Kennedy Nyarko Osei.
Osei said Ghana was working round the clock to stop the importation of rice into the county based on recent projections.
The Deputy Minister revealed this in an interview with Kwame Tutu on “Anopa Nkomo” on Accra-based Kingdom FM 107.7.
Osei, whose position was published on the website of Kingdom FM 107.7, said: “We import billion dollars of rice into the country, but the Agric Ministry, led by Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, is determined that by the end of 2022 we will stop importing rice from other countries based on our projections.
“The two crops we are focusing on are rice and soya; soya because of the poultry industry and rice because of import substitution.”
It will be recalled that Ghana recently put pressure on Nigeria to open its borders for goods from other countries.
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria had ordered the closure of Nigeria’s borders to stem the importation of goods with local substitutes, especially rice.
Reports had it that the Republic of Benin, which does not consume parboiled rice, is the perhaps the largest importer of the rice type through its ports.
The border closure came after years of ban by the Central Bank of Nigeria of access to foreign exchange by importers of 43 prohibited products.
The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, retired Colonel Hameed Ali, said within one week of the closure of Nigeria’s borders, over 500,000 bags of locally manufactured rice that had been lying in warehouses of the producers were sold.
According to available information, rice constitutes 82 per cent Ghana’s import, accounting for $1 billion.
The amount was at almost 2 per cent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product, according to Ghana’s Deputy Trades Minister, Robert Ahomka Lindsay.
Osei told Kingdom FM 107.7 further: “Changing the structure of our economy through diversification and value addition will not happen overnight.
“It remains a major pre-occupation of the government because it is our pathway to reduce dependency, expand the economy, create jobs, increase exports, reduce imports and support the value of our currency.”
It would be recalled that Afriyie-Akoto had told the West African nation of plans to cut food importation through a flagship programme: Planting for Food and Jobs.
The programme is expected to provide farmers fertilizers at low rates to help boost local yield.
The subsidised rate, which is 50 per cent, is catered for by the Government as an incentive to smallholder farmers.
So far, farmers who used to produce three bags of rice per acre in the past, now produce 10 bags.
The ripple effect has led to the creation of more jobs as the need for hired hands in the harvesting and processing of farm produce has spiked.
Jobs created as at 2017 stood at 745,000, which is now improving to 900,000, according to the Minister of Agriculture.
In addition to this, a spinoff of the programme, tagged: “Rearing for food and jobs,” is set to begin.