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Agric minister pleads with rice processing company on behalf of farmers, but company says it can’t comprise on quality


The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has begun discussions with the biggest rice processing company, Avnash Industries Ghana Limited (AIGL) to help rice farmers in the northern region.

The ministry’s move was due to incessant appeals to government from farmers to help them mill their rice and link them to buyers.

Avnash which was established in 2001 in Ghana installed a rice processing plant at Chang-Naayili near Nyankpala in the Tolon district of the northern region. The plant has a production capacity of 500 metric tons per hectare and capable of producing 150,000 tons of rice annually.

Close to two hundred skilled people are being recruited by the company both directly and indirectly to help the company meets its targets.

Despite its capacity to mill both straight and parboiled rice as well as brown rice, some rice farmers in the region accuse the Avnash company with over 45 years’ experience in West Africa, Europe, USA and India of being selective in their approach to rice farmers and petitioned the agric ministry which has supervisory role in the sector.

Sector minister, Alhaji Mohammed-Muniru Limuna during his working visit in the region on Monday pleaded with Avnash to abandon the criteria they use in selecting rice in the buying process at least for now.

But, the northern region sector head of Avnash Industries , Akshay Sharma in an interview told Zaa News that the company expects quality paddy rice from farmers. According to him, the company produces international quality products capable of competing with the best brands on the globe and cannot comprised on quality. Avnash northern region with their rice processing plant operating at full capacity, 100 percent, Ghana could earn nearly 80 million US dollars and also promote local rice Mr Sharma stated.
“We are part of made in Ghana campaign not in only in rice also in palm oil, biscuit manufacturing among other products,” Mr. Sharma said.

Avnash northern sector head added that the company has taken the first step by investing huge sums of money and that it is in the best interest of the farmers and other agencies to take advantage of the investments, grow more paddy in order to earn foreign currency to boost Ghana’s economy.

This he said was a form of making made-In-Ghana campaign realistic. With the power challenges confronting industries, Avnash is making good use of the by-products to generate power for its plant.

In any industry power is a major contributor in running the enterprise and Avnash has made all its industries energy sustainable power through waste materials which is working in eight of its branches in Nigeria.

The entire production of paddy rice Mr Sharma said can be consumed by Avnash rice processing plant but it will depend on the quality and variety of rice produced by farmers because of the nature of the market.

On whether the company will heed to the agric minister’s plead, Mr Sharma said they have relaxed their parameters they have set because if there is a strict adherence to these regulations, none of the paddy available in the system will be approved.

Rice farmers who want Avnash to purchase their rice will have to produce quality product noting it does make any economic sense to just purchase any rice. Apart from the quality of paddy rice production, the price levels of paddy rice in Ghana were three times more than at the international level, cost of product is high and the yield is low making the price high from the farmers site.

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