Friday, May 27, 2011

Enough land, enough water

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has enormous potential for developing and increasing rice production. There is tremendous scope for developing rainfed lowland rice areas, augmenting the area under irrigation, and raising yield levels in farmers’ fields through diffusion and adaptation of rice technology to local conditions.

The total area of land potentially suitable for crops in Africa is estimated to be 874 million ha (Mha), but only 150 million ha is harvested yearly. According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Africa only uses about 4% of its water resources.


In SSA only 3% of crop land is irrigated (representing 5 Mha). The total irrigation potential in the principal river basins of SSA amounts to 35 Mha. Therefore, there are still abundant untapped opportunities to expand rice production in SSA for a versatile crop such as rice that can be grown across a wide range of agro-climatic zones.


Rice in Africa is mainly grown under rainfed conditions, unlike Asia, where 55% of rice is grown under irrigation. From the about 8.4 Mha of land under rice cultivation in SSA in 2007, about 40% is located in the upland ecology (contributing 19% to total rice production), 37% in the rainfed lowland ecology (contributing 48% to total rice production) and 14% in the irrigated ecology (contributing 33% to total rice production). The remaining 9% is covered by deep-water and mangrove rice.


Upland rice farming is constrained by frequent drought, low soil fertility (due to deficiencies of nitrogen and phosphorus) and soil acidity. Weed competition constitutes the most important yield-reducing factor, followed by drought, blast, soil acidity and low soil fertility. Many of the poorest rice farmers depend on the upland ecology. Typical average rice yield under upland growth conditions is about 1 t/ha. With the use of robust varieties, and improved management practices to rebuild soil fertility and capture rainwater, there is potential to increase yields in the uplands by 2 to 4 t/ha.


Lowland rice cultivation offers great prospects for expansion, intensification and diversification. Estimates of available rainfed lowland areas range between 138 Mha and 238 Mha. The soils in lowland ecologies are generally less fragile and floodwater conditions promote the growth of nitrogen-fixing bacteria and blue-green algae that produce enough nitrogen to sustain 3 t/ha rice yield year after year.


The main constraints to rice production are water control and weed management. The attainable yield is from 3 to 6 t/ha, while the actual yield is typically between 1 and 3 t/ha. Rainfed lowlands also have great potential to diversify rice systems, e.g. by growing vegetable crops after rice, or through combined rice-fish culture.


Irrigation for rice comes in many different forms in SSA and ranges from small (20 ha) stream diversion based systems to large (>10,000 ha) gravity or pump-based systems. Though developing new large irrigated rice schemes may perhaps not be possible, there is much scope for using the potential of existing irrigation infrastructure.


For instance, the substantial yield increases achieved in the Sahel (Mali and Senegal), show that irrigated rice is a feasible option in the sub-region. Attainable rice yields with full water control are in the range of 7 to 9 t/ha, while actual paddy yields on farmers’ fields are from 3 to 6 t/ha.

Suffisamment de terres, suffisamment d’eau

L’Afrique subsaharienne (ASS) dispose d’un grand potentiel pour développer et augmenter la production rizicole. Il existe de grandes possibilités pour mettre en valeur les zones de bas-fonds rizicoles, augmenter la superficie irriguée et accroître les rendements dans les champs des paysans par la diffusion et l’adaptation des technologies rizicoles aux conditions locales. La superficie totale de terres arables en Afrique est estimée à 874 millions d’hectares (Mha), mais seuls 150 millions sont cultivés annuellement. Selon le Programme des Nations Unies pour l’environnement (PNUE), l’Afrique n’utilise qu’environ 4 % de ses ressources en eau.

En ASS, seul 3 % de la terre cultivée est irriguée (soit 5 Mha). Le total du potentiel irrigable dans les bassins des principaux fleuves d’ASS s’élève à 35 Mha. Il existe donc d’importantes opportunités non exploitées pour étendre la production rizicole en ASS pour une culture aussi versatile que le riz qui peut être cultivé dans une vaste gamme de zones agro-climatiques.


En Afrique, le riz est cultivé principalement en conditions pluviales, contrairement à l’Asie où 55 % du riz est cultivé sous irrigation. Des quelques 8,4 Mha de terres sous riz en ASS en 2007, environ 40 % se trouve dans l’écologie de plateau (représentant 19 % du total de la production de riz), 37 % dans l’écologie de bas-fond (représentant 48 % du total de la production de riz) et 14 % dans l’écologie irriguée (représentant 33 % du total de la production de riz). Le reste, 9 % est couvert par le riz d’eau profonde et de mangrove.


La riziculture de plateau est contrariée par la sécheresse fréquente, la faible fertilité des sols (due aux carences en azote et en phosphore) et l’acidité du sol. La compétitivité face aux adventices constitue le facteur le plus important de réduction des rendements, suivi de la sécheresse, de la pyriculariose, de l’acidité du sol et de la faible fertilité du sol.


Une grande portion des riziculteurs les plus pauvres dépendent de l’écologie de plateau. Le rendement habituel du riz en conditions de plateau est d’environ 1 t/ha. Avec l’utilisation de variétés robustes et l’application de pratiques de gestion améliorées visant à reconstituer la fertilité du sol et à capter l’eau de pluie, il y a un potentiel pour augmenter les rendements dans les plateaux de 2 à 4 t/ha.


La riziculture de bas-fond offre de grandes perspectives pour l’expansion, l’intensification et la diversification. Les terres rizicoles pluviales disponibles sont estimées être entre 138 Mha et 238 Mha. Les terres des écologies de bas-fond sont généralement moins fragiles et les conditions d’inondation favorisent la croissance de bactéries et d’algues bleues-vertes fixant l’azote et qui produisent suffisamment d’azote pour supporter un rendement annuel de 3 t/ha. Les principales contraintes à la production rizicole sont la maîtrise de l’eau et la gestion des adventices. Le rendement potentiel se situe entre 3 et 6 t/ha, tandis que le rendement réel reste d’habitude entre 1 et 3 t/ha. Les bas-fonds pluviaux ont aussi un grand potentiel pour la diversification des systèmes rizicoles, notamment en cultivant des légumes après le riz, ou à travers la rizipisciculture.


En ASS, l’irrigation pour la riziculture se fait sous différentes formes et va des petits systèmes de dérivation des cours d’eau (20 ha) aux grands systèmes (>10 000 ha) par gravité ou par pompage. Bien que le développement de nouveaux grands programmes rizicoles irrigués soit peu probable, il existe une grande possibilité d’utiliser le potentiel des infrastructures d’irrigation existantes.


Par exemple, les augmentations substantielles de rendement atteintes au Sahel (Mali et Sénégal), montrent que le riz irrigué est envisageable dans la sous-région. Les potentiels de rendement de riz avec maîtrise totale de l’eau vont de 7 à 9 t/ha, tandis que les rendements réels de paddy dans les champs des paysans varient de 3 à 6 t/ha.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Côte d’Ivoire President’s Inauguration Ceremony


In view of AfricaRice’s historical ties with Côte d’Ivoire, which is its permanent headquarters, the Director General and the AfricaRice Country Representative were invited by the Ministry of Scientific Research and Technology to the inauguration ceremony of the new President in Yamoussoukro on 21 May.

The ceremony was attended by more than 20 heads of state, representatives from many other countries, UN agencies and other international institutions.

After the ceremony, the Director General met with the AfricaRice Board member Yo Tiemoko (Director General of the Centre National de Recherche Agronomique, CNRA, Côte d’Ivoire), the Director of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Adviser to the Minister of Education in Côte d’Ivoire to discuss issues related to the Center’s return to its headquarters, security concerns and the assistance needed from the Government of Côte d’Ivoire.

The delegation also took the opportunity to visit the AfricaRice headquarters in Bouaké, where the facilities are well maintained and there is no damage to property.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

L’Afrique a besoin d’une forte recherche agricole

A notre avis, l’Afrique a besoin d’une forte recherche agricole pour produire des technologies adaptées aux conditions africaines. Pour ce qui est de l’investissement dans la recherche agricole, il s’impose car l’Afrique ne contribue que 0,3% au capital des résultats scientifiques du monde.


Même si l’Afrique ne compte que 70 chercheurs pour 1 million d’habitants contre 4 380 chercheurs pour 1 million d’habitants au Japon, il existe une dynamique qui montre qu’elle peut s’affirmer comme un centre d’excellence de la recherche agricole.


De plus en plus les centres d’excellence sont constitués de scientifiques provenant de plusieurs continents. La bonne question à se poser est celle de savoir que faire pour que les africains soient présents dans ces cercles de qualité scientifique avec une prise en charge des préoccupations du continent.


Dans le cas précis d’AfricaRice, des chercheurs africains de très haut niveau travaillent en bonne intelligence avec des européens, des asiatiques et des américains du Nord. En outre, l’espace d’investigation est le continent africain et les priorités définies en fonction des messages des principaux acteurs des filières rizicoles africaines.


En lieu et place d’une marginalisation, il faut opter pour une large ouverture dans le cadre d’une coopération scientifique normée et mutuellement avantageuse.



Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck,
Directeur Général du Centre du riz pour l’Afrique (AfricaRice)

Africa needs strong agricultural research

We believe that Africa needs strong agricultural research to produce technologies adapted to African conditions. Increased investment in African agricultural research is necessary because Africa contributes only 0.3% of the world’s scientific results.


Although there are only 70 researchers per million inhabitants in Africa against 4380 researchers per million inhabitants in Japan, results show that Africa can carry out world-class agricultural research.


Increasingly centers of excellence are including scientists from several continents. The real question is what can be done to ensure African presence in high-level research and take into account African priorities.


Here in the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), top notch African researchers collaborate efficiently with European, Asian and North American colleagues. The scope of work covers the entire continent and its priorities as defined through feedback from the main actors in the African rice sector.

Instead of being marginalized, we must opt for openness based on mutually beneficial scientific cooperation.


Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck
Director General of the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Africa Rice Breeding Task Force annual meeting

The annual meeting of the Africa Rice Breeding Task Force was held, 12–13 May, in Cotonou to review progress made in the first year and discuss plans for 2011. The Breeding Task Force was launched in June 2010 to regroup scarce human resources devoted to rice breeding in Africa and help build a new generation of rice breeders across the continent.

It adopts a systematic collaborative approach to rice breeding that will build much-needed rice breeding capacity, facilitate access of African rice breeders to new materials, stimulate rice germplasm evaluation across the continent and, in general, shorten the time needed to deploy new climate-resilient and stress- tolerant rice varieties for major production systems in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Africa Rice Breeding Task Force annual meeting


The annual meeting of the Africa Rice Breeding Task Force was held, 12–13 May, in Cotonou to review progress made in the first year and discuss plans for 2011. The Breeding Task Force was launched in June 2010 to regroup scarce human resources devoted to rice breeding in Africa and help build a new generation of rice breeders across the continent. It adopts a systematic collaborative approach to rice breeding that will build much-needed rice breeding capacity, facilitate access of African rice breeders to new materials, stimulate rice germplasm evaluation across the continent and, in general, shorten the time needed to deploy new climate-resilient and stress-tolerant rice varieties for major production systems in sub-Saharan Africa.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Second phase of the Africa component of STRASA launched

The Africa component of the STRASA project Phase 2 was launched at AfricaRice in Cotonou, on 9–10 May, with nearly 50 participants attending. These included AfricaRice and IRRI scientists as well as project partners from national programs, seed producers and NGOs from 18 African countries.

The achievements of Phase 1 were reviewed and work plans for 2011 were presented. The program also included presentations and discussions on the Green Super Rice project, a new consolidated PVS protocol, and current seed systems and varietal release procedures of STRASA project countries.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Agricultural experts push for a strong seed sector in West Africa


Underlining that seed security is a prerequisite for achieving food security, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and AfricaRice convened a ‘Regional workshop on seed policy in West Africa’ in Cotonou, Benin on 5 and 6 May. The workshop was inaugurated by HE Michel Sogbossi, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Benin.

The workshop was attended by decision-makers from 11 West African countries and from Madagascar. Representatives from ECOWAS, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), African Development Bank (AfDB), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), IFDC, African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) and African Seed Network (ASN) also took part.



The agricultural experts who participated in the workshop urged decision-makers to support the sustainable growth and development of the West African seed sector, particularly for food-security crops, such as rice, millet, sorghum, cowpea and maize.

The workshop stressed the need to formulate, adopt and implement coherent strategies and policies at regional and national levels for the rapid development of viable seed enterprises, which would help increase the steady supply of quality seed to millions of smallholder farmers in West Africa.

Key recommendations targeted to specific stakeholder groups were made by the participants to enable a sustainable seed production and distribution effort in the sub-regions, including the needs to:

·         Develop improved varieties and ensure their rapid delivery through effective seed systems
·         Develop national action plans to support the sustainable development of seed industries
·         Strengthen partnerships between the public and private sectors on seed-related issues, with clear delineation of their respective roles
·         Develop the capacity of the formal and informal seed sectors
·         Integrate a value-chain approach in seed policies
·         Develop regulatory frameworks for rapid and sustainable growth of the seed industry
·         Ensure the participation of the whole range of actors in the formulation of seed policies.