The Ministry of Finance reports indicated that Ghana’s annual import of essential food commodities, including rice, poultry, sugar, and tomatoes, averaged around US$2 billion.
Between 2017 and 2020, the country spent between US$845.9 million and US$2 billion on rice importation, poultry, tomatoes, and other items.
This came to light at the ‘Ghana Food Security Conference 2023’, organized by the Jospong Group of Companies in partnership with the Asian African Consortium, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
The conference which was under the theme: “Enhancing Food Security; the role of Ghanaian Scientists” brought together scientist, policymakers, academicians, industry players and other stakeholders across the world.
Chairman for the Jospong Group of Companies, Mr. Joseph Siaw Agyapong, speaking at the event said Ghana had the capacity to reduce rice importation and provide food sufficiency.
He said the government needed to support investors in the private sector because it had the capacity to upscale rice production.
As part of the move, the Jospong Group with its partner, the Asian African Consortium (AAC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CSIR to upscale rice production in Ghana
According to the group chairman, the role of scientific research in farming was imperative and that there was the need for partnership to reduce rice importation and deal with food security challenges.
The Director General for CSIR, Prof. Paul Bosu, said as a research institution it was focused on developing several crop varieties including rice, adding that commercial or large-scale cultivation needed the science aspect to thrive.
He said the conference was not only focused on rice production but also maize, tomatoes, onion, pepper among others.
The vision, he stated was to ensure the agenda of upscaling rice production for Ghana’s self-sufficiency in rice and food production in general to be achieved.
Muhammad Ali Baba, Managing Director of Rifan Investment Arm Ltd emphasized that political will was imperative in the quest to upscale rice production in Ghana.
Mr Ali Baba who represents the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria as the Special Advisor to the President, said Nigeria was producing rice on a large scale because its government implemented policies that excluded rice and other food products from receiving official foreign exchange allocation and duties and levies were imposed on importation.
Again, the Nigerian government was committed to providing enough resources and funding particularly to small holder farmers.
“So, since the millers and processors were no longer getting forex to import brown rice like they use to do and they were compelled to look inwards, and these farmers now have access to resources and quality inputs were also encouraged to produce more”.
The Chief Executive Officer of Asian Africa Consortium, Mrs. Adelaide Agyapong, on her part said most commodities including rice, maize, soyabean, and tomatoes were facing supply shortages in Ghana.
However, she believed that with the collective efforts of all stakeholders the country could harness the knowledge, expertise and innovation of scientists to enhance food security in the country.
She said Jospong Group of Companies in partnership with the AAC and CSIR were working to bridge Ghana’s food security concerns.