Rice importers have overstocked their shops with variety of rice in anticipation of increased patronage during the Christmas festivities.
The importers have embarked on massive advertisement in the media to attract the attention of potential and existing consumers of rice which mainly come from the United States of America, Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand.
The development has negatively affected the sale of locally produced rice. Despite government�s announcement to cut overseas importation drastically, imports ordered by traders in the industry in the last quarter of this year have increased significantly.
�Our warehouses are filled with rice and we will empty them before the end of the year,� said Rose Aboagye, a rice dealer at Okaishie in Greater Accra.
The 56-year-old woman, who has been in the rice trade for 18 years said: �This year, business was low at the beginning but we hope it will pick up. We do not want to turn our customers away when they call on us.� She said her shop � a wholesale shop � had already received orders from clients who are mostly retailers.
Commenting on the prices, Madam Aboagye noted that the price of a bag of rice had been increased in the last few months, adding �it�s not our fault. It�s not as if we want to take advantage of the Christmas festivities to increase our prices but the issue is that there are excessive imports globally and this has pushed up the price of rice in the world market.�
At the beginning of this year, a 5-kilo bag of rice was sold for GH�150 but in the last three months, it went for between GH�18 and GH�22 depending on the brand. A 50-kilo bag of Texas rice, which was sold for GH�80 last year, is now selling at GH�115. In 2010, it was sold for GH�65.
Madam Aboagye was optimistic sales would increase �especially as Ghana�s presidential and parliamentary elections are over and Ghanaians are ready to celebrate the Yuletide.�
Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food & Agriculture, in November this year, stated that government had reduced rice importation by 30 per cent and had increased local production of the cereal by 59 per cent.
He said the government used policies and other interventions such as subsidization of fertilizer, distribution of improved seeds and the introduction of the Savanah Accelerated Development Authority project as well as the Northern Rural Growth Programme to reduce poverty and boost food security among rural households.
According to Michael Champonu, a trader, �The quality of the local rice is poor.�The rice trading sector faces many challenges including the smuggling of the cereals into the country that deprives the state of the much-needed revenue.
But Solomon Kwadwo Kusi, Coordinator of the Rice Headloads Association, noted that many people patronize other staples during periods of good harvest and food glut. On the other hand, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority acknowledged that certain smuggling activities occur at Ghana�s borders.
To curb the situation, customs officials patrol inland road check points, while mobile task forces are deployed to track down smugglers.
Nabil Moukarzel, Executive Chairman of Finatrade, a leading company trading and promoting local rice, hinted that local initiatives must help to increase consumption of locally-produced rice.
Source: Daily Guide
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