Ghana’s leading agricultural produce manufacturing company, Avnash Industries Limited, has introduced its first brand of locally produced jasmine long grain fragrant parboiled rice into the market.
‘Royal Farmers Rice’ as it is called was introduced into the Ghanaian market last December, giving hope to thousands of local farmers who have not had direct access to a commercial rice miller since the closing down of state-owned Nasia Rice Processing Plant in Tamale almost a decade ago.
Royal Farmers Rice is by all standards, a superior brand compared to the thousands of tonnes of American and Asian rice imported into the country annually. It is nutritious and good for the health of consumers because it is not polished rice.
The Head of Avnash Industries Limited in charge of the Northern Region, Akshay Sharma in an interview with Savannahnews, said “the company is set to produce 500 tonnes of rice per day”, an indirect call to rice farmers to expand cultivation of rice in the next farming season.
Rice is the most consumed staple food in Ghana now. About 90 percent of families depend mainly on rice for their daily meal. In recent years, the consumption of the staple has increased tremendously to an estimated 600,000 tonnes annually.
But local production is still not able to meet consumption demand often leading to a yearly importation of rice worth over 500 million dollars. This has put a huge strain on the national economy and limit government’s ability to save money for other needs such as health, education and infrastructural development.
In most parts of Ghana, rice farming is largely done in small scale; an average of 2 to 5 acres per a household. This can be attributed to a number of factors including inadequate cultivable land and among others.
As a result, this slows down Ghana’s quest to increase rice production from the 20,000 tonnes per year to its new target of 200,000 tons per year. This also, further compounds the vicious cycle of poverty and food insecurity among Ghanaian farmers and their families.
Mr. Sharma said due to the low level of required rice produced by farmers in the Northern Region, the company is currently targeting only the Ghanaian market with its product which ranges from 50kilogram bags to 1kilogram bags.
|Mr. Akshay Sharma|
Despite having about 8 to 10 trucks delivering raw materials to its Rice Processing Plant located at Changnayili in the Sagnarigu District in the Northern Region, Mr. Sharma said that was still not enough to meet their targets.
He appealed to government to develop more irrigation schemes across the region that would enable farmers to boost the cultivation of rice to feed industries and local consumption.
“Because of inadequate raw materials, cost of production is often high and this affects pricing. If there are more raw materials cost of production will come down and that also means that rice produced locally would be very affordable for everyone to buy for consumption”, he explained.
Mr. Sharma also encouraged Ghanaians to consume more of made in Ghana products including parboiled rice produced by Avnash which is healthier and nutritious compared to imported polished rice. “Agriculture is the backbone of every nation and so when there’s significant investment in this sector, there’s bound to be improvement in cash flow.
Avnash Industries Limited was established in 2001; the name deriving from ‘Avinash', Sanskrit for “indestructible.” The removal of the “i” to form Avnash signifies a selfless service to Ghana, the company’s corporate website says.
The company also operates a 500 metric tonnes per day edible oil refinery that converts crude palm oil into various fractions, principal of which is vegetable cooking oil called Golden Drop. With vitamins to address deficiencies and a golden colour to match Ghana’s colonial name, Gold Coast, Golden Drop is truly the “mind, body, and soul of Ghana.”
Oly laundry Soap is another product it manufactures from its 100 metric tonnes per day soap plant, using by-products from the oil separation process. The company combines local, herbal extracts with natural oils to make bathing and washing a rich experience for all. The brand currently boasts variants in the laundry and pure body categories.
The company has also leased 30 acres of land at Buipe in the Central Gonja District to set up a 300 metric tonnes per-day groundnut oil processing plant. Additionally, it has acquired and upgraded three defunct factories: Bosbell Oil Processing Factory and Blue Mont Shea Butter Processing Factor.