Rice has become a major staple food in Ghana following an increased in rice production and consumption over the years. A rise in demand for the staple has caused shortages and a corresponding rise in imports.
In view of this, Shinkaafa Buni Rice Farmers Association, an Agri-business organization operating in the three regions of the north and some parts of the Brong Ahafo region has intensified its efforts to make rice farmers wealthy through the production of rice and other grains which will ensure that farmers will produce rice in large quantities thereby meeting the rice demand of Ghana as a whole.
Shinkaafa Buni supports farmers in the area of inputs, extension services, mechanization services and ready market for farmers who cultivate crops especially rice and now has also started supporting farmers with soybeans and maize production.
With regard to inputs, Shinkaafa Buni provides the farmers with high class inputs such as quality seeds, fertilizer, pre-emergent and post-emergent, pesticides and many more. Shinkaafa Buni is currently working with over three thousand farmers in the three regions of the north.
In earlier times the country had surplus of agricultural food produce especially local paddy rice from the northern region during the 1970s. Today, the country imports nearly 80 to 85 percent of its rice which is a million tonnes of rice annually resulting in foreign currency outflow of US Dollar 550 million.
Due to lack of resources and infrastructure, farmers currently are not able to get the minimum and desirable yield of paddy rice per hectare which should be approximately 6MT/hectare as per minimum international standards. The maximum yield achieved generally is about 1.8 MT to 2 MT per Hectare.
This is also faced with numerous challenges such as lack of mechanized services for harvesting the crop at the right time and with right moisture, the post-harvest loss due to lack of facilities for cleaning and drying the harvested paddy rice resulting in increasing the paddy price for the rice millers and processors. Another important factor of the high paddy price is the financial cost which is as high as 38 to 40 percent.
Briefing the media in Tamale the chairman and director for Shinkaafa Buni, Mr. Akshay Sharma called for the support from government and its policies to relief the stress domestic rice millers go through. According to him, though the country's consumption is one million ton of rice, it is hard to find good rice milling units with large processing capacities. Hence, the need for government to assist the private sector.
BY: LILIAN D.WALTER