Speaking in an interview with the Graphic Business, Mrs Aniagyei advised Ghanaians and other residents to continue to support Ghana rice and other made-in-Ghana products through loyal patronage.
''Continued and increased patronage would help keep existing producers in business and encourage potential ones to step up to the challenge,'' she noted.
Ghana stands to derive a lot of benefits, including the creation of sustainable employment for its people, particularly, women and the youth, should patronage increase for local products.
Some Ghanaians have often refused to accept and patronise anything produced in Ghana due to perceived misconceptions. However, many other Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians hold the view that once the products met quality standards they will choose them over other options.
According to her, the various types of rice sold at all the GhanaMade stores were produced by farmers across all the regions of Ghana, key among them being the three northern regions, Volta and Eastern regions.
“The continued large scale purchase of these farmers’ produce by GhanaMade is helping to improve their family incomes and thereby improve access to education and health for their families,” she said.
The Programmes Officer of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), Mr Charles Nyaaba, in a separate interview, called on the government to help improve the country's rice production.
“Currently, many rice farmers are experiencing shortage in the harvesting of their rice due to the low rainfall in the country since last year,” he said.
According to him, production reduced due to climate change the previous season. The farmers under the irrigation could not produce, mainly due to low rains.
He said there was not enough water in the various irrigation facilities across the country and that was the cause of the low production recorded last year.
“The rains stopped earlier than expected last year, so those farmers who did the late rain fed planting did not get enough rains to prepare the harvest which also affected the outcome,” he said.
He indicated that some farmer groups in the northern part of the country had to lose their rice to bush fires last year because they were finding it difficult to get a combine harvester to harvest their rice.
Explaining further, he said access to input had been a big problem to the farmers, such that in recent years, high cost of inputs like fertiliser was having its toll on the rice farmers.
He recalled increased fertiliser prices globally impacted the price of the subsidised ones in Ghana.
“The MPK fertiliser which is subsidised for this season is still selling at GH?89, and with that not all the farmers, especially the smallholder farmers who are able to access the subsidised fertiliser,” he added.
Responding to the trend in the market, he said, for once Ghanaians are gradually developing a taste for the local rice, adding that the onus fell on the producers to do more in terms of the packaging and branding so that it would catch the attention of majority of the citizenry.
The Programmes Officer added that the importers of rice most of the time tried to undermine the market for the local rice.
He alleged that some rice importers bought the high quality local rice and packaged it as imported rice and sold it, a situation which persuaded the buyers from buying the local rice without knowing it was local rice.
He said the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority was revamping a number of irrigation facilities to help boost rice production across the country, such as the Tolon Irrigation Facility, which is under the Ghana Commercial Agricultural Project, the World Bank and the USAID.
That project is expected to boost rice production all-year round and it will attract private investors.