Business News of 2014-03-19

Gov’t moves to increase local rice production

The government has stepped up efforts at increasing the production and processing of rice locally to reduce the current over-dependence on imported rice, a senior policy advisor at the Office of the President, Dr Sulley Gariba, has announced.

According to him, although over the last five years rice production had increased significantly by 60 per cent, the volume and value of rice imports had seen a dramatic increase during the same period.

Baseline survey

Dr Gariba, who announced this at an official presentation of the results of a 2012 Northern Ghana population-based survey in Accra, said the situation pointed to an urgent need for the type of transformation in agriculture that served the nutritional needs of the people.

In 2012, USAID/Ghana initiated a population-based survey of households in 45 districts under the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) located in the three regions in northern Ghana and the northern part of the Brong Ahafo Region.

The research concluded that more than one in five households lived below the poverty line, earning less than $1.25 per day, with the Upper West Region experiencing the highest poverty rates.

It determined that 67 per cent of total household expenditure was allocated to food in the areas under consideration.

Local rice production

Dr Gariba said the private sector had established two new rice-processing factories at Nyankpaala in the Northern Region and Sogakope in the Volta Region, while plans were underway for the establishment of another one at Asutsuare in the Greater Accra Region.

He said the government had made available more than 1,200 hectares of land to the stock of irrigable land, mainly for rice production, while another 8,000 hectares had been added by the private sector to supplement nearly 6,000 hectares in the three regions in the north alone.

“It is my firm belief that if we maintain this progress we are making in rice production, Ghana will, in the near future, become a net exporter of rice,” he said.

Use of the baseline data

The Economic Growth Office Director of USAID/Ghana, Mr Peter Trenchard, was hopeful that development practitioners and policy makers would use the data from the baseline survey to improve programmes and policy-making activities.

He said the data had the potential to influence economic decision-making, governance planning, media reporting and citizen knowledge in general.

The Government Statistician, Dr Philomena E. Nyarko, who chaired the function, emphasised that high quality statistics could help governments to track progress and make evidence-based decisions and outcomes.

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