Ghana’s Agric Minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto has indicated that his Ministry is doing everything possible to drastically reduce if not stop the import of rice in the next four to five years.

His comment follows the country’s non-importation of maize between January and September this year due to the increase in maize production.

The Minister said that Ghana spends about a billion dollars on rice imports. He said that his outfit, therefore, plans to support local rice farmers to increase their yields and gradually shift demand to the local rice.

Speaking to Accra-based Citi FM, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto said “We import about a billion dollars of rice into the country and we are determined that within the next four to five years, that should come to an end because we need that foreign exchange to develop our country by building the roads, hospitals, schools among others and not to use it to import things that our farmers are producing and giving jobs to foreign farmers.”

“The two crops we are focusing on are rice and soya; soya because of the poultry industry and rice because of import substitution,” he added.

He conceded that the government has to play a significant role in order to meet the ambitious target.

Some of the things to be done by the government include the supply of modern machinery for production at a subsidised rate or for free, the drive to purchase local rice and the provision of improved grains to increase yields of local rice farmers.