Africa spends about five billion dollars on rice import annually Mr. Buka Tijani Deputy Director-General of Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has said.
Mr. Tijani said, rice consumption in Africa is rising more than any other staple in the region, with consumption increasing by roughly 5.5 percent a year, and in the long term rice jump to 130 per cent by the year 2035.
He was speaking at the opening of a two-day technical workshop for Partnership for sustainable Rice system Development in Sub-Saharan Africa in Accra.
It was attended by experts in rice production drawn from Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Togo Senegal’, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Cameroon, Guinea, Mali, Uganda and Tanzania.
He said, the importance of rice to the continent’s food security could not be overstated.
According to him, research institutions have highlighted the potential role of high yielding rice varieties as a solution to boost low crop productivity targeting their increased use by smallholders.
Mr. Tijani said, the African Union and the African Development Bank have recognized rice as a priority strategic staple crop for the region as part of the Malabo agenda to eradicate hunger in Africa by 2025.
He said, an increasing number of countries have incorporated rice self sufficiency as a strategic element in their national food security strategy.
“FAO is responding to increasing demand by national governments and regional bodies for support to improve domestic rice supply and strengthen the rice market in Africa,” he added.
The FAO representative said, the FAO was actively consolidating partnerships with regional and global development partners to support the transformation of Africa’s rice sector by boosting productivity, strengthening rice value Chains and supporting improved coordination in regional markets.
In a presentation, Mr. Peter Anaadumba a member of the FAO said, Africa had large untapped potential for rice production and a large and growing demand for consumption, yet 5.6 billion dollars worth of rice was estimated to be imparted in 2013 from outside the continent.
By Daniel Amoo