The growth in Africa rice sector was lauded by the Executive Director of FARA, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo in a panel discussion at the Coalition for Africa Rice Development (CARD) event which was a part of the Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICARD VI).
The event which held on Wednesday, 24th August, 2016 focused on the progress of CARD initiative and the future of rice in Africa. Dr. Akinbamijo asserted the progress made in the rice sector over the last 10 years citing example of Nigeria, Madagascar, Tanzania and Mali.
According to a presentation earlier made at the event, Nigeria is now the largest producer of rice in Africa; and has been able to reduce importation by 70 percent, while the processed quality now competes favorably with the imported rice from Asia.
The recent outcome came about as a result of “huge investment in enabling policies, infrastructure and partnership with the private sector”- stated Dr. Akinbamijo. The government also supported the development of rice mills and agricultural equipment supply services; provided tax holiday to private investors in the sector and declared importation of agricultural machinery duty free.
However, Dr. Akinbamijo remarked that despite the pocket of growth in rice production across the continent, considerable effort is still required to bridge the yield gap and foster the broad based productivity at the farm level.
The role of science thus, is vital as good science is required to continuously generate solutions to the emerging issues from tradeoffs to technological innovations. He stressed that sustaining the current edge requires science and its paraphernalia and such science must be in the hand of Africa stakeholders and not subscribed to others.
Dr. Akinbamijo stated that the FARA led Science Agenda is an important framework to make this possible on the continent as it responds to issues around various commodities. The implementation of the science agenda is underway in the countries and it is structured to cover various issues including investments in research and the required scientific interventions to source solutions to thematic issues such as mechanization of the smallholder’s systems.
FARA partnered with key organizations within the CARD project to birth the South -South partnership in this regards. The outcome of the mechanization effort is the provision of initial linkages to support complementary efforts that are going on in the different countries on rice mechanization.
Further, FARA Executive Director averred that the birth of Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) and the African Agriculture Research Programme (AARP) both will maintain the delivery of expected results.
Dr. Akinbamijo applauded the excellent partnership that is demonstrated in the implementation of CARD activities and affirmed that with this concerted efforts, the future of the rice sector in Africa is promising.
“Africa will at last Feed Africa” he concluded.
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