Statistics published by the Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO) of the United Nation (UN) in April 2013 indicated that, rice production in Ghana has been growing steadily despite an increase in imported rice.
Domestic consumption of rice and growth rate
The main rice types produced in Ghana are Oryza Sativa and Oryza Glaberima.
A research conducted by Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in 2010, showed that rice is the second most important grain food staple next to maize.
It is also the first imported cereal in the country accounting for 58% of cereal imports which is 5% of total agriculture imports in Ghana over the period 2005-2009.
In 2010, rice was the 10th agricultural commodity in Ghana by value of production while it ranked 8th in terms of production quantity for the period 2005-2010 (MoFA, 2010).
It occupies roughly 4 percent of the total crop harvested area, although it accounts for about 45 percent of the total area planted to cereals (MoFA, 2009).
In addition to being a staple food mainly for high income urban populations, rice is also an important cash crop in the communities in which it is produced.
Between 2005 and 2010, Ghana ranked among the top 50 rice producers worldwide, dropping out of the list only in 2007 (FAOSTAT, 2010).
According to a report by J.W Oteng, themed ‘Rice Production and Development in Ghana’ rice consumption in Ghana increased from 7.4 kg per caput/annum between 1982 and 1985 to 13.3 kg per caput/annum, resulting in a total annual consumption of 239 400 tons of milled rice, estimated (on 18 million population). The annual consumption (1991-1996) thus showed an increase of 119 000 tons over that of 1990.
The total paddy production was 329 080 tons, an estimate based on an average yield of 1.9 tons over a total area of 173 200 hectres.
The dependency on rice imports is common to many West African countries. Following the 2008 world food crises however, the annual rate of increase of West Africa’s rice production went up from 3.8 percent to 5.4 percent.
Rice consumption has however stabilized at between 5 – 6 percent.
But, similarly to a number of West African countries such as Benin, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria, Ghana witnessed an increase in demand for substitutes such as cassava with evidence being offered in the increase in the production and trade of cassava flour since 2008, A World Food Programme (WFP) report in 2011 said .
According to MOFA in 2010, Ghana’s rice production satisfied around 30 to 40 percent of demand with a corresponding average rice import bill of USD 450 Million annually (MOFA and AGRA, 2010).
The massive dependency on rice imports has always been of concern for Ghanaian policy makers especially after food prices soared in 2008.
Indeed, in May 2008 Ghana was one of the first countries within the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) to launch its National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) for the decade 2009-2018.
The main objective of the NRDS is to double domestic production by 2018, implying a 10% annual production growth rate, and enhance quality to stimulate demand for domestically produced rice.
However, import duties and other taxes as well as interventions to boost productivity and quality of local rice do not seem to produce any substantial impact on Ghana’s import bill.
According to MOFA, the evolution of production, area and yield for rice in Ghana for the period 2000-2010 increased from 0.09 and 0.16 million hectares while yields fluctuated between 1.7 and 2.7 tons per hectare.
It however appears that from 2007, rice production has been on the increase with 2010 production levels being more than double 2007 levels (from 185 300 tons in 2007 to 491 600 tons in 2010) with average annual growth of more than 15 percent over the period 2005-2010, despite the production drop experienced in 2007.
Reasons for this increase could be attributed to the favorable rain patterns as well as the 2008 Fertilizer subsidy programme, the Block Farm programme of 2009 which are also contemplated in the Ghana Rice Strategy.