Ghana’s rising import bill on rice, has been a huge source of concern for many, who believe the problem should be tackled head on, in order to save our local farmers.
In March this year, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, George Oduro, told Citi Business News that, measures such as the ‘planting for food and jobs’ as well as the newly introduced Irrigation land facility system should help reduce the importation of rice by half.
“This year alone, our target to stop the importation of rice by 50 percent, maybe we can achieve that or more.” He said.
Similarly, the minister of Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie-Akoto, on JoyNews’ PM Express programme on Wednesday October 30, 2019, said the government plans to ban rice and poultry imports in three years.
While, we appreciate the various efforts of the government to reduce or ban rice import, which currently, Ghana imports 331 million dollars of rice annually, we believe that to get to the bottom of it, the government, must first stop rice importers from using Bonded Warehouses.
According to Wkipedia, A bonded warehouse, or bond, is a building or other secured area, in which dutiable goods may be stored, manipulated, or undergo manufacturing operations without payment of duty.
It may be managed by the state or by private enterprise. In the latter case a customs bond must be posted with the government.
There is no magic wand that can be used to compel Ghanaians to eat locally produced rice, or to get importers to stop bringing in rice, unless the government put in place measures to make import unattractive.
The importers, who are profit driven, can still sell the local rice and make their profit.
President Muhammed Buhari of Nigeria, to stem the tide of rice importation, in 2015, directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to block food importers’ requests for foreign currency in a bid to boost local agriculture in Africa’s most populous country.
This newspaper is of the considered opinion that, there is no better time than now, for the government to be decisive and take drastic measures to end the annual rice import bill that, is having a toll on the local currency.
It is imperative to stop rice importers from using Bonded Warehouses, as that is a step towards reducing the amount of rice import annually.