Realizing Africa’s Rice Promise

JIRCAS International Symposium Proceedings
Full text

Rice consumption in Africa is increasing rapidly because of changes in consumer preferences and
urbanization. In 2009, the continent imported one-third of what is available on the world market, costing an
estimated US$ 5 billion. Soaring and highly volatile rice prices and relatively low levels of global stocks are
predicted to remain the norm over the next 10 years. As witnessed by the food crisis in 2008 this is a very
risky, expensive and unsustainable situation, and it may lead to severe food insecurity and civil instability in
some African countries. However Africa has the human, physical and economic resources to produce enough
rice to feed itself and many national, regional and continental rice sector development initiatives have seen the
light since the food crisis. The critical challenge facing the African rice sector is to enhance performance in
production, processing and marketing to respond to a major concern to be turned into an opportunity: the
growing demand for rice as a preferred staple.
The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) is a pan-African research organization, that currently includes 24
member states, working to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security in Africa through research,
development and partnership activities aimed at increasing the productivity and profitability of the rice sector
in ways that ensure the sustainability of the farming environment. AfricaRice is also a member of the
Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR). During its 28th Ordinary Session, held
in September 2011 in The Gambia, AfricaRice’s Council of Ministers approved the Center’s 2011-2020 Rice
Research for Development strategy. Through a priority setting process, seven Research for Development
(R4D) Priority Areas (PAs) were identified that are considered crucial to realize Africa’s rice promise:
1. Conserving rice genetic resources and providing climate-resilient rice varieties to smallholder farmers
that are better adapted to production environments and consumer preferences
2. Improving rural livelihoods by closing yield gaps and through sustainable intensification and
diversification of rice-based systems
3. Achieving socially-acceptable expansion of rice producing areas, while addressing environmental
4. Creating market-opportunities for smallholder farmers and processors by improving the quality and
the competitiveness of locally produced rice and rice products
5. Facilitating the development of the rice value chain through improved technology targeting and
evidence-based policy making
6. Mobilizing co-investments and linking with development partners and the private sector to stimulate
uptake of rice knowledge and technologies
7. Strengthening the capacities of national rice research and extension agents and rice value chain actors
AfricaRice will act as both a developer of and a broker for rice knowledge and will tap sources from
within and outside the African continent, with each partner contributing to the rice R4D agenda according to
its comparative advantage. PAs 1 ? 5 will result in new rice technologies that will make a positive, sustainable
and lasting difference in the livelihoods of farmers and other rice value chain actors. Through PA6, links will
be established with large rice sector development initiatives and the private sector to obtain co-investments to
stimulate uptake of appropriate rice knowledge and technologies and to obtain feedback on technology
performance. PA7 addresses the desperate lack of trained capacity across the rice value chain and in rice
research and development in Africa. Across priority areas, there is a need for working closely with women
farmers, researchers, extension agents and agribusiness women in order to maximize efficiency, effectiveness
and impact.
The strategy will be mostly (with the exception of PA3) implemented under the umbrella of the Global
Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), led by IRRI, a CGIAR Research Program (CRP), with other CRPs
contributing to specific Priority Areas. AfricaRice is one of the architects (with IRRI, CIAT, JIRCAS, IRDand CIRAD) of GRiSP, leads GRiSP activities in Africa and will ensure that through its active role in the
CRPs, global knowledge is mobilized to respond to the challenges and opportunities in the 7 Priority Areas.
Collaboration with NARS will be re-enforced through the establishment of Task Forces; collective
research for development efforts on critical thematic areas in the rice sector, based on the principles of
sustainability and build-up of critical mass at the national and regional level. The following Task Forces have
been or will be established: Rice Breeding Task Force (PA1); Rice Agronomy Task Force (PA2 and PA3);
Rice processing and value addition Task Force (PA4); Mechanization Task Force (PA2, PA3, PA4); Rice
Policy Task Force (PA5); Gender Task Force (cross-cutting). Collaboration will also be re-enforced with
FARA, the sub-regional research fora, and national rice centers of excellence within the framework of the
West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) in Mali and the East Africa Agricultural
Productivity Program (EAAPP) in Tanzania, sponsored by the World Bank.
Task Force activities and much of the work in the CRPs will be thematic in nature, contributing to PA1 ?
PA5, but research outputs will be integrated in ‘Rice Sector Development Hubs’ (‘good practice areas’) to
achieve development outcomes and impact. Rice Sector Development Hubs involve large groups of farmers
and other value chain actors, such as rice millers, input dealers and rice marketers. These partnerships will be
testing grounds for new rice technologies and new institutional arrangements (contracting) between value
chain actors and follow a ‘reverse-research approach’, i.e. starting from the market. Partners will pursue a
‘proof of concept’ approach to rice value chain development, productivity improvement and sustainable
management of natural resources in rice-based systems based on innovative approaches to collective action
and governance. The objective is to produce rice or rice-based products that respond to consumer preferences
in urban and rural markets in quantities that are of interest to rice traders, who would usually import such
Hubs will represent key rice ecologies and different market opportunities across AfricaRice’s 24 member
countries and will be linked to major national or regional rice development efforts to facilitate broader uptake
of rice knowledge and technologies. Care will be taken that women and youth are not marginalized, but on the
contrary strengthened in the process of rice value chain development. At least 30 of such Rice Sector
Development Hubs will be established across Africa by 2020. Civil society organizations (CSOs), including
farmer organizations and NGOs will be involved in technology adaptation and wide-scale diffusion in the
Rice Sector Development Hubs and provide feedback to researchers and policy makers on technology
performance and research and investment priorities.
Collaboration with the private sector may involve contributions to strategic and applied research in one of
the PAs, or to ‘proof of concept’ work in the Rice Sector Development Hubs. This will include companies
involved in farm inputs (seeds, farm machinery), credit provision, processing and marketing. Private
companies will also serve as technology diffusion channels.
Linkages will be strengthened with regional economic communities to assist with policy formulation and
building of rice research and extension capacity. Links will also be re-enforced and expanded with
international and regional development funds, banks and donors, in particular those regrouped in the Coalition
for African Rice Development (CARD). Many of those directly contribute as donors to the R4D activities that
will be implemented under this strategy. Rice Sector Development Hubs will as much as possible be
established in regions that benefit from large-scale bilateral or multilateral investments of these agencies in
rice sector development to build capacity and to facilitate out-scaling of rice knowledge and transforming
research outputs into development outcomes and impact.
Well-designed monitoring and evaluation systems, adoption studies and ex-post impact studies will
accompany the implementation of this strategy, enabling regular reviews of strategic choices made. It is
estimated that by 2020, benefits generated by this research agenda will have contributed to moving Africa’s
rice self-sufficiency level to at least 80%, whilst lifting millions of African rice producers and urban and rural
rice consumers out of poverty.

Date of issued
Creator Marco Wopereis


rice research and extension

rice value chains

rice sector development

priority setting


Publisher Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences
Available Online
Issue 2011
spage 37
epage 52
Rights Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences
Language eng

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