Rice is increasingly growing in importance across Africa. The continent consumes 30 million metric tons (MT) of the commodity per annum. However, 59% of it – equivalent to 17.7 million MT, is imported costing the continent about USD 5.4 billion a year.
Today, the continent’s total rice production stands at 26.1 million MT. This is up from 14 million MT a decade ago. The 93% increase has been largely due to the collaborative of the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) which was established in 2008 at TICAD IV with the overall goal of doubling rice production by 2018.
True to its original mandate, CARD has delivered the envisaged results mainly by supporting the 23 countries in which it operates to develop and implement National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS). In the 10 years of its existence, CARD mobilized resources for the implementation of over 170 projects in the priority countries.
Based on this success, efforts are underway to roll out the second phase of the initiative. This was the focus of discussions today in Tokyo, Japan at a high-level event during the ministerial meeting ahead of TICAD VII, 05 October 2018. Speaking at the event, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Director-General, CARD Secretariat lauded the initiative as a game-changing partnership. “AGRA is pleased to host the CARD secretariat and are committed to continue working with all of you and other partners to sustain the transformation that the coalition has demonstrated it can deliver for improved livelihoods and incomes of millions in Africa.”
The work of CARD dovetails with AGRA’s other commitments to the development of the rice sector which were delivered through projects worth over $40M over the past decade. These include:
- Supported to national research institutions by funding 18 PhDs and 40 MScs in rice breeding.
- Supported rice breeding interventions that resulted in the release of 90 improved rice varieties.
- 44 of these varieties have so far been commercialized across eighteen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Supported the growth of 62 private small and medium rice producing seed companies through technical assistance and seed funding.
- Led to the production of close to 90,000MT of improved rice seed representing about 13% of total crop portfolio.
- Investment in agro-dealer development to aid the distribution of seed, crop protection technologies and fertilizers into rural Africa.
- These activities have reduced the distance that farmers used to travel to purchase improved seed from over 15kms to about 5kms at present.
The Second phase of the initiative will seek to double rice production in Sub-Sahara Africa from the current 28 million MT to 56 million MT by 2030. Expanding its scope to cover 32 countries, it will involve more partners including the Regional Economic Commissions and the UN World Food Programme. In light of lessons learned in the first phase, it will also seek to build resilience, promote industrialisation, foster competitiveness and empower key stakeholders. It will also put more emphasis on policy and advocacy work
“We have a new pipeline of rice related projects valued at about US$ 20 million in 8 countries which will complement the efforts of the second phase of CARD,” added Dr. Kalibata.
Commending the achievements of the coalition, Dr. Shinichi Kitaoka, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said that all stakeholders in Africa should continue joining their efforts in rice sector, recognizing AGRA for its role in leading and coordinating relevant partners in African rice sector under the CARD initiative
The impressive results of the work of the coalition, as well as AGRA’ other rice initiatives, were made possible through the funding and support by the African Development Bank (AfDB), AfricaRice, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), NEPAD, and the World Bank.