Business News of 2014-07-13

Major boost for poultry, rice production

Minister of Trade and Industry Haruna Iddrisu has said that government is ready to support the local production of poultry and rice to meet local consumption and for export.

At a meeting with executives of the Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers (GNAPF) in Accra, Mr. Iddrisu said he is aware of the number of requests from the association and individual farmers.

He noted that in President John Mahama’s 2014 State-of-the-Nation address, the president focused on the need for structural transformation of the Ghanaian economy to facilitate sustainable economic growth and development, largely looking at the need to substantially reduce imports while promoting exports and increasing domestic production.

“We have accordingly agreed to support large-scale production of poultry, including the entire value chain of poultry and rice production.

“The government, between now and 2015, has allocated GH¢50million as special support to the poultry sector, but depending upon the specific individual needs of the farmers it could increase,” he said. Ghana spends about US$600million annually on rice and poultry imports, but the Minister said the stimulus package could see import figures reduced drastically.

“Our poultry farmers have the capacity to feed this country. What is more encouraging is the fact that we have the capacity to develop a new value chain, from the farm to processing to sales and marketing and consider exporting it ourselves. But before that we have to satisfy local consumption.”

He added that government will heed to the calls for a ban on rice imports if only local farmers demonstrate the capacity to produce to satisfy the domestic market.

“Until you do that we may not be able to say that rice should not be imported when we are not self-sufficient in domestic production. With poultry there are a number of tariff measures that government at anytime can use to discourage its import. We would be happy to do that as a government, and I am happy to collaborate with my Minister of Finance. But our poultry farmers must also demonstrate some domestic capacity for poultry production.”

At the ECOWAS meeting in Accra last week, President Mahama said from 2015 Ghana and other West African governments will begin with the implementation of the Common External Tariff, which will guide them in decision-making when it comes to tariff bans.

Apart from engaging the farmers, the Trade and Industry Minister said government wants to support young people in poultry production as a new initiative.

“We are looking for bankable business proposals, at least two from each region, cost not exceeding GH¢1million for a young person to go into poultry production. The amount for young males will be up to GH¢1million; for females it will be GH¢1.5million. This will support them to go into any of the value chain of poultry production with support from EDAIF.”

He insisted that President Mahama remains very determined to see to an increase in production of poultry in Ghana and a substantial reduction of poultry products imported into the country.

He added that the pharmaceutical sector has already benefitted from similar support. “I am happy to announce that government has pumped over GH¢100million to support a number of Ghanaian pharmaceutical companies. What we expect from them is an increment in production, employment and revenue to be paid to the state.”

Chairman of the National Association of Poultry Farmers Kwadwo Asante said this stimulus package will help them increase production and reduce imports.

“If we start producing broilers in this country in considerable volumes, we will satisfy the domestic market because it is a short-term investment. Broilers can be raised in only six weeks and can be mature for consumption.”

He said due to funding challenges the country has only two poultry processing plants, which process 75,000 birds a week with market demand standing at 2.7million birds a week.

“By the middle of the month the Ministry of Agriculture will launch broiler production officially. We will no longer be carrying birds on our heads to sell, but process the birds like the ones imported into this country.”