Local rice farmers are warning Government to build the capacity of local rice farmers as the country risks shortage of agriculture products, particularly rice, if the coronavirus pandemic keeps lingering for the next three months.
Executive Director of the Western Deedew Group, Mr. Kwabena Amofa Akuoko, who gave the caution in an interview with Mpimpimhene Gyetuah of Skyy Power FM in Takoradi, indicated that Ghana imports over 60% of rice produce from Asia and America for local consumption. These countries, according to him, will definitely hoard their produce to feed their population due to the production losses which will occur during the pandemic.
“Ghana imports most of the rice we consume from Asia and America. Now these countries are seriously fighting this coronavirus pandemic and they have already given us a signal that they are going to hoard what they have to feed their citizens. So, we will soon hit a deficit. Meaning we must double up our efforts to ensure we produce the percentage of rice we import from these countries before 2021 else rice shortage will hit the country,” Mr. Kwabena Amofa indicated.
Government has earmarked 600 million Ghana cedis stimulus package to support industries in the country to survive the challenges following the coronavirus outbreak. The package, according to Government, will be given to only existing small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs). Mr Kwabena Amofa Akuoko believes over 50% of the package should be channelled to the Agric sector, particularly rice farmers. He says this will boost production to save the looming deficit.
“Government must be recommended for introducing this package for industries, I think it is a step in the right direction, but more than 50% of this should be dedicated to the agriculture sector because the coronavirus effect will be hardly hit in this sector. Government should make the sector a priority to salvage the situation as soon as possible,” he noted.