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General News
Trade Policies Killing Agricultural Industry- GAWU 2/26/2007
Bolgatanga, Feb. 24, GNA-The General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of TUC on Thursday expressed concern about some of the nation''s trade policies and practices that tend to destroy the local agricultural industry.

" The importation of cheap food items, especially rice is pushing the farmers out of work as they cannot market their produce," the Union observed at a workshop in Bolgatanga organized for Municipal and District Chief Executives, District Coordinating Officers, Presiding Members and Directors of Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA). It was aimed at discussing and analyzing trade policies that affect agricultural produce with focus on those that negatively affect the rice industry. It also aimed at identifying avenues that could be explored to arrest the decline in the rice industry.

Ms. Glowen Kyei-Mensah, coordinator of the "Citizens'' Voice in Trade Policy and Food Security" Project which falls under GAWU, said the local rice industry was one of the hardest hit and that the Union had decided to put special emphasis on the rice issue, hence the project. She said the Ghanaian Rice industry could effectively compete with imported rice if only the mode of processing was improved.

Ms. Kyei-Mensah noted however, that the local brand of rice was more nutritious and tasted better, especially when cooked with beans (Wakye) or as rice balls. It sells at 20,000 cedis per the standard measuring bowl while imported rice sells between 30,000 and 40,000 cedis.

Alhaji Awudu Yirimeah Upper East Deputy Regional Minister said that the Local rice industry was very buoyant in the 1970s, and that a lot of people were engaged in its production. "However the declining rice market due to liberal trade policies as pre-conditions given by the international Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank brought about a big setback."

"This phenomenon does not only frustrate our hitherto hard working farmers but also threatens the food security of the country. The elimination of subsidies makes cost of production very high thus making the local rice industry uncompetitive", he said.

He said the Government had introduced a pragmatic Policy to reduce rice importation by 30 per cent annually and that the benefits were to be ploughed back into local rice production.

GAWU formed the Citizens'' Voice in Trade Policy and Food Security with the aim of promoting sustainable citizens'' engagement on trade policies and related food security issues with a focus on the rice industry.

It is therefore working to strengthen the capacity of rice farmers and Agricultural employees to dialogue with Government on the issue. 24 Feb. 07Source:
GNA

 
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