Report: Ghana Making Gains Towards Increased Rice Production

Rice farm

April 16, 2018//-Ghana’s 2018/19 rice production is forecast at 510,000 metric tonnes (MT), according to the April edition of the Global Agricultural Information Network (GRAIN) compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

It noted that rice consumption is expected to continue rising steadily based upon the country’s population growth and strong, renewed economic growth after several years of underperformance.

Mid-year (MY) 2018/19 imports for rice is projected at 620,000 MT.  Ghana is making some gains towards increased rice production through its agricultural policy and investment, but population growth is expected to leave imports fairly stable.

The United States has exported only small quantities of rice to the region in recent years.

Rice production

Ghana’s domestic rice production for MY 2018/19 is forecast at 510,000 MT, representing strong growth in the domestic rice sector and continuing Ghana’s upward production trajectory in recent years. The country has the potential to realize higher production levels of rice but this has been constrained by the use of less improved seeds, inadequate fertilizer use and reliance on rainfall by the majority of rice farmers.

The potential yield is reported to be above 6 MT/HA but the national average is 2.75 MT/HA. The Government of Ghana (GOG) envisages an increase in production of rice by 49 percent over the current production level within a period of five years.

This would be achieved through the use of improved high yielding and disease resistant rice seeds by farmers and the adoption of low cost water management practices.

Domestic rice production in Ghana is expected to increase in the coming years, and the current year’s crop has been reported as better than average but demand for imported rice will not be affected considerably.

In 2017, GOG introduced a 50 percent subsidy on rice seed and fertilizer under the new government’s flagship project, ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ (PFJ) campaign, to make it affordable for producers to increase rice production.

Under the program, about 10 percent of the rice seeds were imported by licensed agrochemical companies and the rest supplied by local seed growers.

The subsidized price of a 20kg bag of rice seed is GHS 50; the cost of 50kg fertilizers such as NPK 15:15:15, Sulphate of Ammonia and Urea are GHS 57.50, GHS 60 and 47.50 respectively.

During field visits it was observed that bags of rice seeds had been left undistributed because rice farmers did not procure these even at the subsidized price.

Sources anticipate this trend to continue, with some of the targeted rice farmers still resorting to the use of less improved seeds resulting in the lower than expected yields.

Although an increase in rice production is expected in MY 2017/18 because there are reports of a lot more farmers getting registered to benefit from the PFJ, it must be tempered because rice continues to be grown at the subsistence level under primarily rain fed conditions in valley bottoms/low lying areas, and employs traditional methods with limited irrigation and mechanization.

As a result, Post has lowered the MY 2017/18 production estimate to 440,000MT. Rice is grown throughout all regions of the country.

However, the primary production zones are found in Volta, Ashanti, Eastern, Upper East, and Northern regions, with Volta the largest producer.

In most cases, rice is grown once per year, but in rare instances that irrigation is available, producers may plant two crops per year. The primary growing seasons are April/May planting and July/August harvest for Volta, Ashanti and Eastern regions.

In the Northern and Upper East, producers will typically plant in July/August and harvest in October/November.

Consumption

In Ghana, rice is the second most important cereal after corn, and has become a major staple food. MY 2018/19 consumption has been projected at 1.12 million MT, up by one percent from Post’s MY 2017/18 estimate.

The per capita rice consumption is estimated at about 35kg/year, and with Ghana’s population now estimated by the Ghana Statistical Service at 29.6 million, rice consumption is expected to increase accordingly.

Rice consumption in Ghana has increased along with population growth, and rice is increasingly a main part of the diet in many Ghanaian homes due to its relative convenience in preparation and palatable recipes.

GOG sources indicate that annual per capita rice consumption is expected to reach 40kg by 2020. Increasing urbanization, a large and growing expatriate community, a growing entrepreneurial middle class, a rapidly growing tourism sector, and an increase in women working outside the home are all responsible for the increase in demand. Additionally, the increasing number of restaurants and fast food vendors in major cities and towns has increased the demand for rice.

Urban consumers, who represent 55 percent of Ghana’s population, account for 76 percent of total imported rice consumption. Ghanaian urban consumers prefer imported rice due to its higher quality. There is increasing demand for high quality rice and consumer preferences are changing towards fragrant and long-grain white rice.

Only 20 percent of domestically produced rice is consumed in urban areas due to its poor quality and higher concentration of debris and stones.

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