Rice farmers across the country are calling on government to roll out insurance policy covers for rice farmers to enhance the future of its members.
According to the farmers, this is long overdue as they also invest their best to provide food (rice) to enhance the country’s food security and sustainability.
Addressing the event, President of the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body, GRIP, Nana Kwabena Agyei Aryeh II mentioned that to be able to be self-sufficient in rice production, it was important government addresses insurance cover for its members.
He said government, through the insurance commission should introduce agriculture insurance as a guarantee to farmers to grow the industry.
“With the introduction of the agriculture insurance, the financial institutions will have more confidence to make credit available to farmers in the sector”, he noted.
Over the past ten years, the value and volume of food imports, most especially rice, have gone up at alarming rates.
Nana Kwabena Agyei Aryeh II also described rice production as a difficult task bedeviled with challenges including the lack of irrigation facilities to enhance quantity and quality productions.
“Ghana lacks irrigation systems. The facility is only available to fifteen percent (15%) of the country’s farmers while the remaining eighty five percent (85%) who do not have access to irrigation facilities have to depend on the rainy seasons for their farming activities which is a serious challenge which government must tackle,” he said.
Nana Kwabena therefore called on the government to roll out insurance policy covers for rice farmers and also subsidize loans for them to enhance production to curtail the importation of rice since local rice farmers are capable of producing to feed the country as well as for export.
Last year, the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto revealed that the country’s importation bill for rice had heightened to a whopping $1.2 billion as at 2015. The figure represents a dramatic 800 per cent increase over the rice import value of $152million in 2007.
Nana Agyei Aryeh II lamented the surge in rice importation which puts pressure on the country’s trade balance.
The president of the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body equally expressed concern at the inadequacy of storage facilities and milling machines which according to him come as a headache to local rice farmers, a situation she assertsa also deserve urgent government intervention.
The intervention, she asserted is essential to cushion production as rice has become one of the staple food produces for Ghanaians, adding that local rice is very delicious and fresh compared to its foreign counterparts.