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$One Billion Blown on Rice Importation

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The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusi Afriyie Akoto has revealed that the country in 2015 spent a whooping $1 Billion on rice importation.

This according to him, continues to be the trend for not just rice but for about eight other food products with rice leading the chart.

Taking his turn at the Meet the Press Series, held in Accra, Yesterday, the minister indicated that in 2007, Ghana had began importing rice with $151million and by 2015, billions of dollars had been spent.

“We are using almost half of our total cocoa proceeds to import rice into this country.

“These are statistics from the two ports of Tema and Takoradi. The amount of rice which are smuggled into this country from the Port of San Pedro in Cote De Ivoire is not even counted and that could be as much as the official statistics,” Dr Akoto said.

According to him, it was disheartening to note that a country blessed with good soil and with the capability to feed the whole of West Africa, still imports produce that are grown by local farmers.

This disastrous trend, the minister says, they “are determined to stop.”

The minister was however unable to produce statistics on amount spent in 2016 and 2017.

Ghana Is Not Hungry

The minister further indicated that Ghana’s agriculture seems not to thrive until recently, not because farmers are lazy but that past governments had failed to give farmers the necessary support needed.

Until 2017, Dr Akoto said the country’s agriculture productivity rate kept declining with no hope of increasing.

“We should be accelerating and not deaccelerating and that is not what we need for transformation, we need to have the acceleration going therefore, our objective is to reach double digit growth annually in the Agricultural sector,” he said.

He continued: “Let’s face it; Ghana is not hungry…the potential that God has given us and where he has located us on this earth is so fertile that we could be doing five to 10 times of what we are doing with our food.

“We are getting there, you can see that in 2017, because of planting for food and jobs, the rate of growth which is more than 8% and still provisional exceeded the highest we’ve had. We are hoping that this year we would hit the double digit for 11%.”

Dr Akoto indicated that many factors may have contributed to Ghana’s fall in Agricultural productivity making the country one of the lowest agricultural producing countries in the world.

By: Grace Ablewor Sogbey/ ksogbey@gmail.com

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