All is set for the holding of the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VI) here, this weekend.
This forum is quite different in scope from the previous ones because it seeks to project Japan’s transformational agenda for Africa to help speed up the continent’s development.
It would afford Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, the opportunity to meet with African leaders on their own soil to explain his plans for the continent, and for them to agree on implementation strategies.
Towards that end, the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) has been working closely with all the other TICAD co-organisers and the Government of Kenya for the successful organisation of the momentous TICAD VI Summit.
As a prelude to the summit, a series of side events are being held to evaluate the impact of projects and programmes which Japan has been supporting in Africa. They cover various sectors.
In the agriculture sector, Japan’s support was lauded by participants at yesterday’s forum on rice production.
Japan, although a major rice production and exporting country, instead of seeking to promote its own interest, pushes its rice to Africa and maximising revenue from the export, rather decided to assist Africa to grow its own rice and become self-sufficient.
It initiated a move to help Africa to attain that goal, and its implementing body, the Japan International Co-operation Agency, set up the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) at the TICAD IV in 2008, in partnership with various multilateral organisations, aimed at doubling the rice production in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2018.
Much effort and resources have been expended towards achieving that set goal, and statistics indicate that rice production on the continent has grown by 74 per cent as of 2014 ( about 28 million tonnes).
With the funding and assistance from Japanese volunteers, Ghana, for instance, has made much progress in raising productivity of lowland rice, as well as irrigated rice in the northern regions and Ashanti.
Various speakers at yesterday’s forum on CARD attested to the fact that tremendous progress has been made in many African countries in rice production.
They included Mr Yacouba Dembele who represented the Government of Cote d’Ivoire, Mr George Opara from Nigeria, Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, Director-General of AfricaRice, Dr Masa Iwanaga, president of JIRCAS, Mr Bukar Tijan of the FAO, Mr Rivo Rakotovao, Madagascar’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock.
Others included Prof Keijiro Otsuka, Kobe University, Dr Yaw Ansu, ACET, Dr Matthew Morell, Director-General of IRRI, Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of FARA, Dr Chiji Ojukwu, Director for Agriculture and Agro-industry, and Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
All these experts and officials acknowledged the progress made and offered suggestions towards attaining the goal of Africa becoming self-sufficient in rice production.
FROM JIM MACAULEY, NAIROBI, KENYA