Ghanaian importers and exporters say government's plan to ban rice imports in 2022 is not feasible

The Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Sampson Asaki Awingobit, has warned the government that its plan to ban the importation of rice could cause more harm in the short to medium term.

Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Sampson Asaki Awingobit

He said that there may be a shortage of rice in the country if the government only bans the import of rice without boosting local production.

He said the government must examine the entire rice value chain before it goes ahead with its intended ban.

“It is not feasible in the sense that, we don’t want a situation where government will create food insecurity in this country. With what they are bringing, if there is no demand, there will be no supply. If we say that in 2022, we will ban entirely, can we can sustain what we are currently producing let alone looking for surplus for export? So we should not just rush and say, we are banning. The fears I am having is that the government just can’t be making pronouncements. Government should be interested in the produce on the farmlands from cultivation to harvesting to packaging to marketing. Government should look at the supply chain and support the farmer adequately. At the end of the day, if they ban and the importers go to buy it, it will even cost more than the one that is brought from outside.”

His comment is coming after the government announced its plans to ban the importation of rice by 2022 to boost local rice production.

Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Kennedy Osei Nyarko said this is to reduce or entirely stop the significant amount of foreign rice consumed by Ghanaians.

However, Mr Awingobit said even though the ban may be helpful in future the government must put measures in place for a smooth implementation in the long run.

“Government cannot use a short or medium-term to solve this issue looking at the amount of money that we are spending to bring rice into this country. The country can be looking at a long-term solution. But for now, giving ourselves 2022 is not a solution if government bans the importation.”

The local rice farmers and millers have challenges that may leave huge quantities of rice to go waste.

To solve this issue, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has been meeting with 20 major rice importers to get them to support rice production in the country.

Meanwhile, the Ghana National Buffer Stock Company also said it will make its licensed buying companies to purchase all rice produce going bad.

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