According to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), rice has become the second most important staple food in Ghana after maize. The growth in rice consumption in Ghana has risen substantially since the 1990s. From a steady level of 7-8 kilograms per year, per capita rice consumption increased to 11.5 kilograms per year on average during the 1990s and rose considerably to 27 kilograms per year for the period from 2001-2005.
Based on current demographic trends and income growth, MoFA further estimates that demand for rice in Ghana will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 11.8% from 939,920 metric tons to 1,644,221 metric tons between 2010 and 2015ii. However, the country’s production in 2013 amounted to only 569,524.00 tonnes.
It was reported that Ghana would import 600,000 metric tons of rice between October, 2014 and September, 2015 to augment the country’s rice needs. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Ghana would have imported almost 70 percent of its rice needs due to low production locally (30 percent). Meanwhile, vast tracts of fertile lands with flexible terms of acquisition exist in the Northern sector of Ghana.
These lands have water resources available for commercial rice cultivation all along the Northern Ecological Zone/Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) Zone found in the Northern Region of Ghana. It is reported that Ghana has about 16% of arable land currently under agricultural production, leaving a vast portion yet to be developed into commercial agribusiness. Irrespective of this, the country’s rice needs continue to further exacerbate because of the low-productivity due to subsistence-based rice cultivation practiced in the country mostly rain-fall dependent. It is estimated that rainfall dependent rice production contributes about 84 percent of total current production.
This quantity alone generates an average paddy yield of about 1.0-2.4 metric tons per hectare while irrigated production totals only 16% at an average paddy yield of 4.5 metric tons per hectare.
These factors have resulted in low domestic rice production vis-à-vis domestic demand. Ghana has to resort to importation of rice considerably from Thailand, Vietnam, U.S., India and Pakistan to meet the increasing demand for rice as a staple food in the country