The Savannah Agricultural Research Institute at Nyankpala in the Northern Region is calling for an immediate a ban on the importation of rice into the country.
The institute which is under the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research recently announced it would introduce 10 new rice varieties next year as part of efforts to improve local rice production.
Speaking with Joy Business, Director of SARI Dr Stephen Nutsuga said the institute and the other rice producers in the country are now more than capable to meet domestic demand.
“We have quite a number of rice in the system. In 2009, we released 5 new varieties and in 2013, another one was released. Come 2015 we hope to release more varieties onto the market.
“If we have more aromatic rice varieties in the system comparable to the Jasmines, the Thais, American long grain, then our local rice production will improve and of course when production improves, then it means we’ll have more rice in the system. This will then bring the prices down.”
On quality, Dr Nutsuga stated: “Now we have processing machines in the system. If you come to Savannah Agricultural Research Institute, we’ve taken delivery of two new machines where we’ve been pressing rice to the tune of 1.5 tonnes per hour so those machines are available and we have machines that can remove the stones from the rice. We also have combined harvesters where we can harvest at the right moisture and then straight-mill to give good quality rice.
“We have the capacity to meet domestic demand. It has happened before in the early 70s, rice production in the north was a lucrative business. We even exported rice in the early 70s and 80s so why can’t we do it now? We can do it! We have the capacity. There’s no question that we have the capacity.
“If Ghana places a ban on rice importation now, that will be good. If that is done, we will be able to live up to expectation and then we can double up our efforts to produce more rice. It’s just a question of setting our priorities right.”