Rice has become the second most important food staple after maize in Ghana and its consumption keeps increasing as a result of population growth, urbanisation and change in consumer habits.
Ghanaians have over the years developed a strong appetite for imported rice due to its availability and distribution reach in the market as well as its highly polished and fragranced nature.
In view of this, government has set an ambitious target to increase rice production this year as a measure to reduce rice imports to save the economy’s foreign exchange.
The nation’s value of rice imports has escalated eight-fold – from US$152million in 2007 to a peak of US$1.2billion in both 2014 and 2015. In the same period, the volume of rice imports climbed from 441,000 metric tonnes to 630,000 metric tonnes.
According to figures from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) at the end of 2016, Ghana’s rice production stood at 687,680 metric tonnes.
Therefore, plans to increase production by 49% in 2017 means an addition of 337,500 metric tonnes, which will put total production this year to a little over one million (1,025,180) metric tonnes.
The 337,500 metric tonnes increase expected this year is estimated to translate into GH¢371.2million (GH¢371,250,000) as value of this additional production.
This will also create some 226,800 direct and indirect employment comprising 32,400 direct jobs, 194,400 indirect jobs.
According to Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, rice production target was one of the five crops this year under the ‘Planting for food and jobs’, campaign aimed at turning farmlands and backyards into a huge food basket that is expected to cut down the country’s food import bill drastically.
The Avnash Royal Farmers’ rice
Although, there are a number of locally produced paddy rice in Ghana, one brand that stands tall among the rice production industry, with enormous contribution to the country’s economy over the years has been the Avansh’s Royal Farmers Rice produced at Nyankpala in the Tolon District of Northern Region.
The locally produced premium parboiled long grain rice, the Royal Farmers Rice, is being produced to meet the rising demand for rice and reduce its importation.
Royal Farmers Rice is a product of Avnash Rice Mill, located at Nyankpala in the Tolon District of Northern Region, which buys quality rice from local farmers for processing.
The rice processing plant, a state-of-the-art facility and a fully automated mill of Buhler make has which has a capacity to process 500 metric tons of paddy rice per day, has been installed and is capable of feeding the country with the highest quality of rice.
The Avnash Rice Mill expects increased rice production by both smallholder farmers and a few commercial rice producers, who have cultivated over 1,200-acre under cultivation within the Northern and Upper East Regions to help meet local demand.
The commissioning of the Avnash Rice Mill last year reinforces the company’s commitment to its five-year plan to support and create one million direct and indirect jobs for Ghanaians by 2022.
Its Chief Executive Officer, Jai Mirchandani, in a recent statement said the processing plant, a state-of-the-art facility with a capacity to process 500 metric tons of paddy rice per day, is capable of feeding the country with the highest quality of rice.
“This year, we estimate some 32,000 farmers to benefit from this Rice Mill, while transporters, aggregators, mechanised service suppliers, inputs providers, and their families of an estimated 20,000 people will also benefit,” he said.
Avnash Industries Ghana Limited has so far invested about US$150million from 2007 into its agro-business operations and is aimed at adding value to the country’s agricultural produce and creating employment for wealth-creation. The company is also ready to increase its rice milling capacity once the existing capacity is exceeded by the supply of paddy. “We are confident in the hardworking abilities of our farmers and the efforts and support being offered by government will boost the production volumes of rice” said Jai Mirchandani.
The company is well known for its businesses in edible oil, rice, soaps and detergents, packaging of its products – including PET and hard plastic containers.
Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU
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