An agro processor and a farmer, Yaw Adu Opoku has disclosed that banks in the country are not willing to support agro-processors and millers in the country.
Speaking on Joy FM's "NewsFile" on Saturday, Yaw Adu Opoku said most rice farmers in the country are putting pressure on the agro-processors to come for the rice from the farm gate to avoid post-harvest losses.
Sharing his views on the challenges faced by players in the sector, Yaw Adu Opoku said most banks are not willing to support them due to the turn around period.
According to him, the banks always ask of institutional buyers which the locals do not have because they rely on the open market.
"It is simple Ghana is a one season rice farming nation, apart from the irrigation facilities that can do two or three seasons within a year, so when the harvest season comes everybody is in a hurry to harvest their crops,........now it is our turn, the millers and aggregators, to lift the product from the farm gate which we have been doing over the years, now why is the situation like this, simply, the financial institutions have closed their doors to the agro processing sector and aggregation, they have closed their doors no bank is giving a facilitiy to farmers, so we are finding it difficult to go to the farmer and pick from the farm gate and as I sit here a lot of farmers keep on calling me from 4am to sometimes 11pm for me to come to pick their produce, why are they saying that, the harmattan is about to begin and rice is a sensitive crop not like other cereals, when the harmattan comes the moisture level goes down completely, and we also find it difficult to raise finance to go and buy from the farmer, they are even willing to give us credit but the logistics will not take credit....
"The banks find it more easier giving that kind of money to the importer because the turnaround it quicker than us, they can absorb the interest on the money they take, so here we are not on a level playing field and apart from that when the harmattan comes in we all panic, when I take more rice I get into trouble, last year I lost about 1.8 million cedis because of the harmattan, why? I don't have storage and is not about warehouse but silo.
"Banks will ask if you have an institutional buyer, they are not ready to take guarantee from the open market because they are banks that is where we will sell our rice, we need to break that gap and we are finding it difficult we don't know how to go over this."
Gov't to finalise talks with major rice importers
The government of Ghana through the Agriculture Ministry will next week finalise talks with twenty major rice importers to prioritize local brands.
The technical committee set up by the Agric Ministry last week has been meeting rice importers for them to purchase Ghanaian produce rice.
Press secretary for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Alhassan Issah said the importers have assured them of complying with their request.
"I can confirm, the meeting last week and this week has been very successful they are really giving us their commitment to comply with the request, making sure they buy from local producers but we going to step up preparations next week and that's where we are going to bring in the financial institutions, Ministry of Finance will be represented so that we can step up the arrangement and then we take it from there, next Wednesday we are going back to the table with all the parties involved and we will take the conversation further where we will know exactly the Modus Operandi of the agreement..."