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General News Sat, 3 Jun 2006

Tonnes Of Local Rice Locked Up

About 50,000 maxi bags of locally produced rice are locked up in warehouses in the Shai Osudoku Constituency of the Greater Accra Region, as a result of low patronage of the produce.

David Tetteh Assumeng (NDC- Shai Osudoku) disclosed this in Parliament on Wednesday and wanted to know from the Minister of Food and Agriculture what the ministry was doing to help the farmers sell the rice.

Responding, Mr. Ernest Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture, expressed regret that although the local rice was cheaper and more nutritious, its patronage was not encouraging.

To encourage consumption of the locally produced rice, Mr. Debrah promised making available some of the rice to Members of Parliament and urged them to patronize the industry.

He said whereas a locally?produced perfumed rice was sold at ў300,000 per 50 kilogrammes, Ghanaians preferred buying the same weight of imported rice at ў500,000.

Locally produced rice, he said, is better because ?it is milled as soon as it is produced and the nutrient level is much higher than the foreign rice?.

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The Minister announced that the problem between the Kpong irrigation rice farmers and the buyers had been resolved.

Quoting statistics, Mr. Debrah said, local rice production shot up from 162,000 tonnes in 1995 to 237,000 tonnes in 2005.

The Minister also answered questions from some MPs on issues related to agricultural development in their constituencies including prices of farm and fishing inputs, the Ejura farms and the Tono and Vea Irrigation projects.

Others were the rehabilitation of Pomadze poultry industry, the Kyereko Rice Irrigation Project and the Nsuaem Tomato factory.

On the Tono and Vea Irrigation projects, Mr. Debrah said irrigation experts from the Ministry were working on a proposal to rehabilitate the structures, including canals valves and gates to improve water conveyance systems and bring more areas under production to benefit farmers.

On prices of agricultural inputs, Mr. Debrah said the Ministry continues to grant waivers of duties and taxes to importers.

Source: Times
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