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May 2024

Gbdembilisi farmers lament over low rice sales, influx of imported ones

Rice farmers in Gbdembilisi, located in the Builsa South District of the Upper East Region, have expressed deep concern over the lack of buyers for their harvested products.

Gbdembilisi, known for its fertile lands and dedicated rice cultivation, faces a crisis as the farmers report a shortage of buyers for their abundant rice harvest.

The farmers attribute this distressing situation to the influx of imported rice, urging the government to intervene.

“This year, a lot of our buyers and companies are complaining that the government has imported a lot of rice into the country, and because of that, we are not getting buyers. Last year, for instance, Nigerians and other countries were in to buy our rice, but the government has stopped them from entering the country to buy rice. The government is also importing foreign rice, and all the buyers are complaining that when they buy our rice and mill, they don’t get buyers,” John Amobil, a rice farmer, laments.

Citing the influx of imported rice as the primary culprit, Cezar Akinkang, Chairman of the Builsa South Rice Farmers Association, pointed out that cheaper foreign options divert consumers from locally produced grains, resulting in a surplus that local markets struggle to absorb.

“What we heard is that the buyers are complaining that our rice is more expensive than the foreign rice, and the reason why our rice is more expensive than the foreign rice is that the inputs are costly. So, we are appealing that the government should reduce the prices of inputs, and if there is a subsidy, it will help us farmers. So that our price too will come down to meet the needs of buyers and consumers,” Mr. Akinkang appealed.

The community’s rich cultural history ties deeply to rice cultivation, a tradition passed down through generations during every rainy season.

This, the farmers insist, must be protected, hence their call for the government to take prompt action.

They advocate for measures such as a potential ban on imported rice to level the playing field and provide local producers with a fair chance to sell their harvest.

“If there were other alternatives, I would move away from farming because every year I farm to make a profit, but I don’t get it. Nobody comes to buy our rice, and when they come, they want to buy three sacks of rice for two,” David Awunya bemoaned.

Complicating matters, the Builsa South district boasts only two warehouses, both overflowing with rice.

Consequently, farmers resort to storing their harvest at home and in drinking bars, underscoring the urgent need for additional storage facilities to handle the bountiful yield.

Amidst the challenges, farmers highlight the high cost of inputs, machinery services, and a deficient road network contributing to post-harvest losses.

Ali Gafaru, another farmer, says the downturn in rice sales does not only affect them economically but also prompts lenders to pursue repayment of loans taken for farming ventures.

“You go for a loan, and the agreement is that you will pay for a timeframe. Now, how are we going to pay for the loan if we are unable to sell our produce?” he asked.

The Builsa South District Crop Officer, Abdulai Amadu, explains that Farmerline, an agricultural technology firm, has supported some farmers intending to purchase their produce.

He expressed optimism that Farmerline will extend support to other farmers after assessing the rice produced by those it initially assisted. QR Code

Published Date: January 4, 2024

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