Why Rice Matters to Africa
“Rice is global and it is big business. Rice is life in Africa.”
Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, AfricaRice Director General
“Rice sector development is a potential engine for economic growth across Africa.”
-- AfricaRice Strategic Plan, 2011-2020
Rice has been cultivated for more than 3000 years in parts of Africa. The African rice, whose scientific name is Oryza glaberrima, is unique to Africa and is an integral part of the culture of some communities.
Fastest growing food staple.
Demand for rice is growing at more than 6% per year – faster than for any other food staple in sub-Saharan Africa, because of changes in consumer preferences and urbanization.
Strategic commodity for food security
Rice is the predominant dietary energy source in West Africa and Madagascar and it is the second most important source of calories in Africa.
Entry point for poverty reduction
The rice sector represents a pathway out of poverty in Africa, as rice availability and prices have become major determinants of the welfare of the poorest sections of African consumers.
Source of livelihood
Rice is grown in about 40 out of 54 countries in Africa and rice cultivation is the principal activity and source of income for more than 35 million smallholder rice farmers in Africa.
Impact on economies
Local rice production covers only 60% of current demand in Africa, resulting in imports of 10-12 million tons per year (costing more than US$ 5 billion), which is a huge loss of the continent’s foreign exchange reserves.
Major political crop
The increasing role of rice in the food basket of African consumers has made it a political crop – capable of creating or destroying the political, social or economic stability of African nations.
With only 13% of world population, Africa accounts for 32% of world rice imports, which makes it a big player in the international rice trade.
Important for Women
Rice is primarily a women's crop in the rainfed ecologies in Africa, as they provide the bulk of the labor from sowing to weeding, harvesting, processing and marketing.
Viable career path for youth
The rice sector has the potential to employ many of the 17 million young people who enter the job market in sub-Saharan Africa each year.
Africa has the human, physical and economic resources to produce enough quality rice in a sustainable manner to feed itself and in the long run to export to other regions.
Vision of success
AfricaRice presents a clear vision of success to help Africa achieve almost 90% self-sufficiency in rice by year 2020, with at least 11 million people (including rice farmers, processors) lifted above the $1.25 poverty line.
AfricaRice is a CGIAR Research Center – part of a global research partnership for a food-secure future. It is also an intergovernmental association of African member countries.
For more information visit: www.AfricaRice.org
Video by Savitri Mohapatra, R.Raman, AfricaRice