The lack of engagement with rice distributors in the country can be blamed for the poor performance of local rice trading on the Ghana Commodity Exchange (GCX), the Rice Millers Association of Ghana has said.
The exchange in December 2020 added rice to its listed commodity, after a strong media campaign that highlighted the plight of rice farmers and millers in the country. The grain’s listing of was also aimed at boosting the production and consumption of Ghana rice, as the government prepares to place a moratorium on rice importation by 2022.
However, almost a year after rice was listed on the exchange, local rice millers are yet to reap its full benefit as trading is low.
“The local participation of rice on the exchange is very low because understanding the exchange’s workings is very difficult for the distributors and processors,” Convener of the Rice Millers Association Ghana, Yaw Adu Poku, told the B&FT.
Enumerating the challenges, Mr. Poku said lack of engagement and consultation by the exchange has created a bottleneck that is impeding the millers’ operations.
He added that government’s indifferent posture is also not helping to boost the consumption of Ghana rice. “I am working with Wilmar Ghana to engage the GCX, but the bigger challenge is that government is not showing commitment on the ground – only saying it on paper.”
Mr. Poku said multinational company Wilmar Ghana has made a strong commitment to offtake Ghana rice through the GCX to sell to the general public. He however stated that the industry needs the support of government in directing some key state institutions, such the Ministry of Education, to compel the School Feeding Programme to use a percentage of Ghana rice in feeding schoolchildren.
“This is where our frustration is. We want government to direct the Buffer Stock Company and School Feeding Programme to use Ghana rice. We want government to push it into the community. That is all we are asking for.”
He is hopeful that a strong distributor like Wilmar Ghana can help distribute Ghana rice from the GCX if government shows its support by tasking some key state institutions to buy locally produced rice.
“In the past, the excuse was that our Ghana rice cannot match the foreign rice in terms of quality. But now you can’t say that again. We have more quality Ghana rice compared to the foreign rice. So, what’s the excuse now?” he queried
He stressed that a deliberate state policy directed at a few state institutions to offtake Ghana rice will not only boost its consumption, but also increase confidence among the general public and compel the distributors to go for the local rice.
He stated that, currently, most of the distributors are interested in foreign rice because it’s what the market is demanding. “The distributors will always go for what the market is seeking. It is not just about listing the commodity and thinking it will sell. You have to engage the distributors, and government must also show commitment on the ground.”