Rice importers would be ordered to cease their trade in three years if everything goes as planned, Ghana’s Agriculture Minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie-Akoto, has said.
The same applies to persons who import poultry products.
The policy, if implemented would also be similar to the situation with Nigeria, its neighboring country.
Afriyie-Akoto said the government was working fervently to “establish the local capacity” to meet demand.
Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express programme on Wednesday, he said this should be completed in the next three years.
After that, merchants would be expected to trade with local farmers.
Currently, most of the rice consumed locally comes from overseas.
Deputy Trades Minister, Robert Ahomka Lindsay, had previously said rice importation alone takes 82 per cent of all imports into the country.
This cost more than $1 billion, almost two per cent of the country’s GDP in 2018.
This must stop, the Agriculture Minister said.
The government intends, with the help of its flagship planting for food and jobs programme, to increase the yield of farmers.
This, Afriyie-Akoto said should be achieved in three years, paving way for the order to stop imports.
He said this is not over-ambition, neither does it violate WTO protocol.
The government has been selling fertilisers to farmers at subsidised rates as part of the planting for food and jobs programme.
The Minister says with 50 per cent government subsidy on fertilisers for smallholder farmers, a farmer who was previously producing three bags of rice per acre was now producing 10 bags.
This has massively increased jobs since more hands are needed to harvest the produce and process same for the market.
The minister put the figure of jobs created at 745,000 in 2017 but that number has gone up to 900,000; he says.
Meanwhile, the government has introduced a spinoff of the programme, rearing for food and jobs, as a result of the success chalked from the original policy.