HomeAgribusinessUnfinished Harvest: Plight of Asutsuare Farmers as Abandoned Rice Suffers from Lack...

Unfinished Harvest: Plight of Asutsuare Farmers as Abandoned Rice Suffers from Lack of Market

More than 1,000 bags of locally produced rice have been abandoned in farms and warehouses in Asutsuare, a prominent rice production hub in the Shai Osudoku district of the Greater Accra Region.

Joseph Armstrong Gold-Alorgbey reports that the lack of a ready market and poor road conditions leading to the farms have left rice harvested over a year ago rotting at milling centres.

In Asutuare, large farms and milling factories produce what farmers believe to be the tastiest rice grains in the country. However, despite their significant investments to meet planting season demands, farmers are facing a severe lack of buyers.

Paul Kwame Asante, a 41-year-old professional teacher who has been farming for 10 years, is among those struggling.

“There are no buyers coming forward,” he laments, blaming the situation on poor road conditions and competition from cheap imports. Paul is not alone—other farmers are also waiting for buyers a year after harvesting.

According to another farmer, Enoch, the lack of adequate power supply in the rice milling factories has made it impossible to mount more modern rice milling machines to improve production capacity.

He added that the power supply to the farms and milling factories is below the required voltage their machines need on a daily basis.

For these rice farmers, the increased demand for local rice had initially seemed promising, prompting many to double production in the last crop season.

However, the journey to the community is fraught with challenges for both residents and visitors, deterring potential buyers.

In 2023, Ghana imported approximately 440,000 metric tons of rice, a significant reduction from previous years.

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This represents a drop from 650,000 metric tons in 2022 and 805,000 metric tons in 2021, reflecting a 45.34% decrease over the two-year period. The reduction in rice imports has been attributed to recent increases in import taxes and the reversal of certain import policies.

Despite the decline in imports, Ghana still produces about 600,000 metric tons of rice annually, falling short of the national consumption rate of around 1.2 million metric tons. To become self-sufficient, Ghana needs to produce about 1.1 million metric tons of rice annually. Achieving this goal could help save approximately $500 million spent on rice imports each year.

The major sources of rice imports for Ghana in 2023 included Vietnam, China, Thailand, and India, with Vietnam alone accounting for 82% of the imports. The decline in imports has prompted calls for increased local rice production, but farmers in Asutuare are struggling to benefit from this potential market due to infrastructural challenges and competition from imports.

The plight of farmers like Paul Kwame Asante highlights the urgent need for improved infrastructure and market access to support local rice production and reduce reliance on imports. Addressing these issues could pave the way for a more sustainable and self-sufficient rice industry in Ghana.

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