Peasant Farmers bemoan low patronage, urge Govt to intervene

Peasant Farmers

Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) is lamenting the lack of patronage, urging the government to buy more of their produce to mitigate the perennial post-harvest losses, especially in the rice farming sector.

The Association warned that if the situation continues, some farmers will be compelled to abandon their farms to venture into other economic ventures because of the significant losses they have incurred. This would adversely impact the country’s quest to cut down on its import bills in the rice sector.

The Executive Director of the Peasant Farmers Association, Dr. Charles Nyaba, expressed concern about Ghana losing the gains made in the local rice production due to a lack of demand.

He complained that demand for their produce has been stagnant owing to the illegal importation of cheaper rice brands, forcing the local producers out of business.

“We have majority of farmers—about 60–70 percent of them—whose warehouses are so full of paddy rice that they cannot sell,” said Dr Nyaba.

“They cannot sell because the rice millers and the market women who, under normal circumstances, always buy [paddy rice], mill them, and put them in the market are telling us [farmers] that all their warehouses are full.”

He blamed the lack of government support as the sole reason why locally produced rice cannot compete with the illegally imported rice brands on the market.

“The reason why our local rice is not competitive with the illegally imported ones is that we do not get any support from the government,” he added.

According to Dr. Nyaba, the situation is likely to disincentivize farmers from going into local rice production in the future.

He said the peasant farmers are forced to sell their paddy rice at “give-away prices” since they cannot sell it due to a lack of demand.

“If farmers are compelled to give away their produce because they are not getting the market and prices are lower, I do not think it is something we should celebrate,” Dr. Charles Nyaba told TV3 News.

He further explained that the farmers, with the benefit of hindsight, do not expand their production capacity in subsequent years.

A call for Gov’t to step in

The Peasant Farmers Association wants the government to step in and purchase the excess supply from the farmers.

According to Dr. Nyaba, the government, through other state institutions, can buy their produce in large quantities to salvage the losses incurred by the farmers.

“At this trying moment, what we the farmers expect from the government is simple. There are state institutions that procure the foodstuffs, like prisons, Armed Forces, and the School Feeding Programme; why can’t the government come and buy these produce for farmers to be released from this pressure?” he quizzed.

Meanwhile, Ghana spent over GHC6.8 billion, equivalent to about US$560 million, on rice imports last year. Between 2010 and 2020, the country’s rice imports hit a staggering US$8 billion, according to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Although the situation has been a serious source of concern for authorities, less stringent efforts have been adopted to salvage it.

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