It is with great sadness that I share with you the agony of rice farmers in my constituency today, farmers day 2023. The pictures attached, shared with me by the Chief of Gbdembilisa, a rice farmer [the Gbdembilisa Valley is one of the largest and most recognised rice vallys in Ghana], captures the sad situation.
Several bags of harvested rice are going waste, exposed to the elements and thieves because there are no buyers. Chief and other rice farmers informed me that they had an agreement with a company called Farmerline to buy their rice when harvested.
Farmerline as part of the agreement supplied them with branded sacks. According to the distraught farmers, the company requested that they produce and supply specific quantities of rice with a prescribed moisture content of 15-19% (with 2% impurity level) at an agreed price between GHC3.60- GHC3.80 per kilogram depending on the moisture content level.
Unfortunately, Farmerline has since failed to take delivery of the rice. As a representative of the people, I’ve made many attempts since yesterday, 30th November, when Chief brought this vexed matter to my attention, to reach representatives of Farmerline to no avail. The numbers of the marketing manager, sales manager and the company’s representative in the northern sector, either don’t go through or no one picks when my calls go through.
My further checks confirm that Farmerline has its headquarters in Cantonments, Accra. While I intend to locate the head office to find out why the company is failing to meet its obligations to the rice farmers, information from a reliable source suggests that the company may be facing financial challenges.
The rice farmers invested heavily; clearing, ploughing, seed, labour, weedicides, pesticides and fertilizer amongst others, leading to a bumper harvest. Imagine how the farmers feel watching their investment go to waste because a company they believed will buy the rice is failing to do so.
The affected farmers are looking for alternative buyers to no avail. My checks suggest that other rice buyers, including market women from Kumasi who travel to the farms to buy and resell in Kumasi, as well as buying and milling companies have either bought enough or longer have funds and or space for additional rice.
The situation as I’ve narrated above, has serious implications for our food security as a nation now and in the near future. Obviously, this will discourage the farmers from investing more to increase their acreage next farming season. Others may not recover from this loss and will not farm again. How can we be self sufficient by producing what we eat if our farmers cannot get ready market for their produce?
I hereby use this opportunity to call on companies interested in the rice industry to consider buying the rice going waste in Builsa South.
I also urge government to consider an immediate intervention as part of the policy of import substitution. If we are serious about limiting the importation of items including rice, we must not let the rice farmers in Builsa South down.
Dr. Clement Abas Apaak
MP/PC, Builsa South