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Rice cooperative calls on government to regulate importation of rice

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The Bolgatanga, Bawku, and Navrongo (BBN) Cooperative in the Upper East Region has called on the government of Ghana to regulate the importation of rice into the country. The 1,258 women rice parboilers who were engaged in rice parboiling before the formation of the cooperative argued that the influx of imported rice into the country is contributing to the high demand for foreign rice over locally produced   which is indirectly affecting their trade as parboilers. 

Sulla Rudolf Augustine, the General Manager of the BBN Cooperative, said imported rice, often from countries with larger rice industries such as Thailand, India, or Vietnam, has taken over the Ghanaian markets, and that makes it more attractive for consumers to choose imported rice over the local alternative. 

“If you look at the Bolga market for instance, when you go in there, almost 80 to 90 percent of the rice brands there are foreign ones and that is not helping the local industry.”

As a result, he stated that the demand for local rice decreases, which directly affects the trade of the BBN Cooperative members as parboilers. Mr. Sulla, who was speaking to the media in Bolgatanga during the general assembly of the BBN Cooperative, called on the government of Ghana to regulate the importation of rice into the country to help the local industry grow.

“We need the government to come in. I think Nigeria has already taken a step in that direction, and Ghana could also look at that. We have a local rice industry, and we need to support it to grow. If we keep having these imported rice brands allowed into the system, they dampen the market. It destroys the local industry, and we feel the government should regulate that and put policies in place to grow the local industry”, he stated. 

The general assembly is a yearly event where delegated representatives of all the Farmer-Based Organizations (FBO) forming the cooperative gather to take stock of the production season and to set new discourse for the next production year. 

The BBN Cooperative was formed under a 5-year PROCED (Development Program for Inclusive and Sustainable Model Cooperatives) project which is implemented by SOCODEVI, an international NGO that supports vulnerable women and men in the fields of agriculture, environment, and gender empowerment with funding from the Global Affairs Canada. 

Raphael Asuure, the Team Lead for the NGO’s PROCED project said his outfit assisted the Cooperative to procure modern milling equipment that can destone, colour sort, and improve the quality of the rice for the final market. 

“If the quality is improved, then you are able to fetch good pricing, and that impacts on the livelihoods of these women positively. So, that is the reason this cooperative was set up and also market the produce, not just the local markets but markets out of the region”, he added

Gilberta Akuka, President of the BBN Cooperative said the locally produced rice by the BBN Cooperative is of quality and nutritional value, just like any polished rice. She said the project has impacted positively on their lives and their families.

“When we started, the women were not able to get money to buy the paddy but because we have parboiled many times, we get profits from the paddy that the BBN Cooperative buys. So, it has helped us to buy more paddy and pay our children’s school fees. And because of that, our husbands support us because they now understand that we are doing business to support the home”, Madam Akuka indicated.

Source: A1Radioonline.com|101.1Mhz|Joshua Asaah|Bolgatanga|Ghana

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