ACCRA– Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has stated that the ministry is working to reduce drastically, if not stop the import of rice within the next four to five years.

It follows the success chalked as the country did not import maize between January and September this year due to increased local maize production.

The country spends about a billion dollars on rice imports.

But the Ministry intends to support local rice farmers to increase their yields and gradually shift demand to the local rice, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto said when he appeared on the Citi Breakfast Show.

We import about a billion dollars of rice into the country and we are determined that within the next four to five years, that should come to an end because we need that foreign exchange to develop our country by building the roads, hospitals, schools among others and not to use it to import things that our farmers are producing and giving jobs to foreign farmers, he explained.

The Minister added: The two crops we are focusing on are rice and soya; soya because of the poultry industry and rice because of import substitution.

In meeting this ambitious target, the ministry and government would have to meet the needs of rice farmers by supplying them with modern machinery for their production.

Again, the local rice has been faced with low demand which is due to the continuous sale of imported rice at various markets.

Also, the provision of improved grains under the planting for food and jobs program may suffice as a means to improve the yield of local rice farmers.