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BusinessLocal industry collapsing due to 'heavy' rice importation - GAWU

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Local industry collapsing due to ‘heavy’ rice importation – GAWU

The General Agriculture Workers Union (GAWU) has expressed concern over the increase in illegal rice imports flooding the country’s markets.

Despite official data indicating a decline in rice imports over the past three years, GAWU has noted a significant amount of foreign rice being smuggled into the country through unapproved routes.

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GAWU’s General Secretary, Edward Kareweh, stated that their market assessments and investigations in border communities reveal the presence of rice brands sourced from Togo, Cote D’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso.

The illegally imported rice is priced between 20 to 30% cheaper compared to locally produced ones, creating an unfair advantage in the market.

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Mr. Kareweh cautioned that this situation threatens to undermine the local rice industry, as local producers struggle to compete effectively.

“For those in the northern part of the country, much of their rice imports are now coming from Burkina Faso and Togo, and that is how it has flooded the system.

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“When we say that our import values are declining, it is because we are not able to capture the illegal entry of the rice and that is the one that is choking the system because they are cheaper,” Mr. Kareweh said.

During his State of the Nation Address to Parliament on Tuesday, February 27, President Akufo-Addo highlighted a notable decrease of approximately 45% in rice imports between 2021 and 2023.

The President stated that rice imports totaled 805,000 metric tonnes in 2021, 650,000 metric tonnes in 2022, and 440,000 metric tonnes in 2023.

However, the General Agriculture Workers Union has expressed concern that despite the decline in imports, which coincided with an increase in rice consumption, the local rice industry did not experience the anticipated growth.

“Farmers in the Northern part of the country have harvested their rice, but they cannot get market. A rice mill at Savelugu has been complaining that they will shut down because when they process the rice there is no market for it.

“This is because the rice market is flooded with imported rice,” he added.

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