Farmers in Upper East struggling with harvest of rice due to lack of market

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Farmers in the Upper East Region are struggling with the harvest of rice due to the lack of market, leaving many warehouses and farms overwhelmed with over 500,000 bags of the produce in just one warehouse.

Madam Glberta Akuka, a member of the BBN farmers network of rice parboilers Cooperative, said low patronage of rice, especially the processed one, had affected the production cost of members and reiterated the importance of Ghanaians to buy the local rice to support the farmers to stay in business.

“We still believe that the poor patronage of our own locally grown rice is behavioral change issue that people still think that locally produced rice should be cheap. Just consider the production cost and using electricity to process the rice,” she said.

Madam Akuka said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Bolgatanga after a meeting of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG).

She urged the Government to find ways to offtake the rice from the farmers since the paddy and processed rice were still packed with no sign of market.

Over 700 bags of 25 kg local rice were still packed at the BBN warehouses in Bongo and the Ghana Commodity Exchange warehouses in the region, she said.

“This affects the income of the Cooperative as it had no money to continue to process.”

Madam Akuka noted that though the Cooperative was also dealing with the Ghana Commodity Exchange (GCX) to dispose of some of the produce, the conditions of purchase was not business-friendly since the company was not buying on ready cash basis.

“As a new cooperative we have to remain in business, but the GCX conditions do not favour us because we have to pay for the milling services, labour and transportation,” she said.

She said that kept them out of business for a long time and they were unable to continue buying paddy rice as they needed cash for it.

“We are also worried about the continuous influx of imported rice in the markets, which is affecting the local rice markets and farmers’ inability to dispose of their rice,” she noted.

Meanwhile Mr Richard Akuka, the Marketing Manager for rice in Fumbisi, said more rice still remained in the Navrongo and Fumbisi areas, both on the fields and warehouses and feared that any rainfall could be a disaster.

He said even though the Farmers Line Company in the region came to mop up some of the rice, many of the produce was still unsold.

Some traders had taken advantage of the situation and offered GHC 200 for 100 KG of paddy rice, which would not help them pay back their loans.

“If the government does not take steps to withdraw the rice in the system, it might affect production for the 2024 production season”, he added.

Meanwhile statistics from the Regional Directorate of Agriculture indicate that rice production for the year 2022 was 124,856 tonnes, and that of 2023 was slightly higher, 128,236 tonnes.

By Fatima Anafu-Astanga, GNA

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