Friday, October 24, 2014

FAO and AfricaRice strengthen ties to support regional rice development in Africa

A delegation led by Mr Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, visited the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) on 22 October 2014 to explore opportunities for strategic collaboration for a regional rice program for Africa under the umbrella of the Coalition for AfricanRice Development (CARD).

FAO is seeking to build a broad partnership with governments, the private sector, research institutions, producer organizations and donors to develop an efficient, productive and sustainable rice-growing sector in the continent.

“AfricaRice will be a key partner in this initiative, as recommended by African Ministers of Agriculture and other partners,” said Mr Tijani.  “We believe that any change in Africa’s rice sector will begin with innovation from AfricaRice.”

He was accompanied by Dr Yo Tiémoko, FAO Representative in Benin and former AfricaRice Board member; Mr Sourakata Bangoura, South-South and Triangular Cooperation Officer; and Mr Joas Fiodehoume, Executive Associate, Office of the ADG.

Extending a warm welcome to the delegation, AfricaRice Interim Director General Dr AdamaTraoré said, “We are proud of the long tradition of partnership between AfricaRice and FAO and we share a common vision for regional rice development in Africa.”

Dr Traoré remarked that this high-level visit from FAO to AfricaRice, which follows on the visit of the FAO Director General Dr José Graziano da Silva in November 2013, will help build stronger synergies to boost regional rice development.

AfricaRice Deputy Director General Dr Marco Wopereis presented to the delegation a brief overview of the rice research-for-development strategy of AfricaRice, focusing on the continent-wide rice sector development hub network convened by the Center under the CGIAR Research Program on Rice known as the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP).

“Thanks to the unique model of AfricaRice, which is a pan-African organization of 25 member countries as well as an international Center, it has a tremendous leveraging capacity for rice research, development and training,” Dr Wopereis explained.

Dr Samuel Bruce-Oliver, AfricaRice Director of Partnership and Capacity Strengthening underlined the need for greater coherence of rice development efforts in Africa.

The Declaration of the Third Africa Rice Congress held in October 2013 emphasizes the need for FAO to play a more prominent role in stimulating national, regional and global partnerships to develop Africa’s rice sector, as part of the efforts of CARD and under the overall framework of the Comprehensive AfricaAgriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

After a fruitful discussion and decision to develop a joint action plan, the delegation had a guided tour of the experimental fields and the postharvest machinery section of AfricaRice.


Impressed with the recent achievements of AfricaRice, such as the new generation of high-performing rice varieties launched under the ‘ARICA’ brand and the small-scale, locally adapted postharvest machinery and processing equipment, Mr Tijani said, “AfricaRice has excellent research findings and innovation to out-scale and replicate in countries across Africa.”

Scenes from the High-level visit from FAO to AfricaRice:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

World Food Day: Enriching lives of small rice farmers and processors in Africa

Rice is the most rapidly growing food source across Africa and has become critical for food security in many countries. With increasing urbanization, the demand for convenience foods like rice is rising in the continent.

“There is strong evidence that to keep poor farmers and processors in business, they need to produce better quality rice,” said Dr John Manful, grain quality scientist at the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice).

However, African rice farmers are confronted with great difficulty in selling their rice due to prevailing perceptions about the poor quality of locally produced rice. In many African countries, locally milled rice is of variable quality with a high percentage of broken grains.

Sometimes unhusked grains as well as bran and husk fractions are found in the milled rice. The poorer quality local rice is therefore not competitive against imported rice on the market.

AfricaRice Interim Director General Dr Adama Traoré explained that AfricaRice is helping small farmers and processors across Africa to add economic, nutritional and environmental value to rice by reducing postharvest losses, improving grain quality and exploring alternative uses of rice ‘waste’ products (rice bran, husk and straw).

“Such efforts to enrich the lives of small rice farmers and processors are well aligned with this year’s World Food Day theme “Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth,” said Dr Traoré.

The Center and its partners are promoting the diversification of the use of rice to stimulate commercialization and consumption of local rice. They are testing the use of low-value broken rice – which would otherwise be sold at a discounted price on the local market – as the basis of a breakfast porridge fortified with protein-rich groundnut or soybean for undernourished babies and children.

As part of a collaborative Canada-funded AfricaRice project, Ms Lynda Hagan, scientist at the Food Research Institute (FRI) in Ghana, has developed a recipe for noodles using flour from low grade rice and wheat. This rice noodle preparation, as shown in a video recently produced by AfricaRice, is a good example of diversification from the traditional wheat-flour noodles.

According to Lynda, tasty and innovative uses of rice can catalyze rural enterprises and raise income, especially for women farmers and processors in the continent.


Friday, October 10, 2014

CABI-AfricaRice publication ‘Realizing Africa's Rice Promise’: electronic version released

Rice has become a strategic and political crop in many African countries. The hikes in rice prices since 2007 have shown the vulnerability of many African countries that depend on the world market for rice imports and the need to boost Africa's domestic production.

‘Realizing Africa's Rice Promise’ – published jointly by CABI and AfricaRice and edited by Marco C.S. Wopereis, David E. Johnson, Nourollah Ahmadi, Eric Tollens and Abdulai Jalloh – provides a comprehensive overview of the rice sector in Africa and the ongoing rice research and development activities in the region.

The book discusses challenges and opportunities related to sustain ably increasing rice production and rice productivity; enhancing rice quality and marketing; promoting conducive policies for smallholder and agribusiness development; and strengthening impact-oriented rice research, extension and knowledge management.

It also indicates  priorities for action on how to realize Africa's rice promise, i.e. the notion that Africa has sufficient land and water resources to produce enough rice to feed its own population and, in the long term, generate export revenues.

The analyses and case studies presented in this book will be a valuable resource for researchers, development agents from public and private sectors, rice value-chain actors and policy makers concerned with ‘Realizing Africa's Rice Promise’.  

‘Realizing Africa's Rice Promise’ was released during the 3rd Africa Rice Congress 2013 in Yaoundé, Cameroon in October 2013. 

Download chapters of  "Realizing Africa's rice promise" for free at www.AfricaRice.org/rice-promise.

Readers who may wish to purchase a hard copy are requested to contact CABI Bookshop http://www.cabi.org/bookshop/book/9781845938123

Call for applications – PhD Scholarships

Scholarship under the “Stress tolerance rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA)” project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)

Project
AfricaRice leads a project on “Stress tolerance rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project”. STRASA phase 3 seeks to improve the livelihood of resource-poor farmers and contribute to solving food insecurity issues by designing sustainable and climate-smart high yielding rice varieties. The specific objectives of the STRASA phase 3 project are (i) research and develop drought-, submergence-, salt-, iron-toxicity-, and cold-tolerant varieties of rice, (ii) train rice scientists in the target countries to develop improved varieties that can withstand stressful environments and (iii) promote, produce, and deliver the new varieties to farmers in the target countries.

Two PhD fellowships are available to undertake research on salinity and iron toxicity.  Each is described below. 

Research 1 Salinity
New donors with physiological and genetic mechanisms distinct from those already identified in Pokkali-type donors are required to improve salinity tolerance beyond current ranges. Landraces including Oryza glaberrima have not been well exploited for tolerance to salinity. The successful candidate will (1) characterize a diverse set of germplasm for physiological traits underlying salinity tolerance to identify new sources of tolerance for use as donors in breeding and for identification of novel QTLs, (2) use whole-genome sequencing and iSeq QTL workflows to identify candidate genes for any novel QTLs and (3) utilize genome sequence information to design perfect markers for selected candidate genes.
The PhD candidate will be hosted at the AfricaRice Senegal Regional Center, St. Louis, Senegal. 

Research 2 Iron toxicity
Iron toxicity is a widespread nutrient disorder which affects lowland rice mostly in poorly drained fields where reduced iron becomes available at levels exceeding plant’s requirements. Different strategies are employed by plants to avoid iron toxicity. However the lack of a clear understanding of genetic and molecular factors governing iron-toxicity tolerance mechanisms seriously limits breeding efficiency. The PhD candidate will investigate physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying iron toxicity tolerance in rice and identify traits associated with tolerance that could be useful in breeding. Results from this PhD research are expected to elucidate tolerance mechanisms and guide more precise varietal selection which could significantly advance the development of rice varieties tolerant to iron-toxicity.
The PhD candidate will be hosted at AfricaRice station in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania but may be required to conduct experimental trials in other countries involved in iron toxicity tolerance screening. 

Position 
  • 3-year PhD scholarship is comprehensive and will cover stipend, research costs, tuition, travel, and insurance. 
Qualifications 
  • MSc degree in one or more of the following fields: crop science, plant breeding, plant physiology, genetics or molecular biology, obtained less than 5 years ago
  • Satisfy graduate admission requirements for a PhD in a reputable university (Strong preference is given to candidates already enrolled in a University for PhD). 
  • Has a supervisory Professor at the target University, who agreed to the proposed research. 
  • Excellent analytical skills preferably demonstrated through previous experience will be an added advantage. 
  • Good writing skills and the motivation to carry out a PhD within 3 years as required. 
  • Fluency in English and preferably also in French 
Eligibility 

Nationals from the STRASA project countries, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda. 

Application procedure
Application details are at www.africarice.org/capdev/fellowship.asp

Candidates should submit the requirements listed below to africarice_students@cgiar.org
1) Application letter 
2) Statement of purpose for studying PhD
3) Curriculum vitae
4) Brief proposal of the research (500 words)
5) University transcripts (detailing BSc and MSc degrees) 
6) Proof of enrolment in a PhD program at a reputable University. 

Closing date: 7 November 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

AfricaRice App becomes Mobile App of the Week

New York, NY (PRWEB) October 08, 2014

Infinite Monkeys, has announced today that AfricaRice is the company’s “App Of The Week” for Sept. 28th - Oct. 4th. 

Each week Infinite Monkeys selects one app from the thousands published with their free app maker platform. This app was chosen because it is a great example of the quality, beauty and usefulness that mobile apps can bring to a traditional community.

With more than 1 Billion smartphones now active in the world, and 84% of those users accessing the Internet via their smartphone everyday, the base of potential mobile users for AfricaRice is massive and growing by the day. 

This app has about 16 links to social media and different content sections. Users can check out their About Us section, Job Openings, and an extensive list of their organization’s Contact Details.

This app also has a link to their Slideshare account where users can view presentations on topics like Agircultural Innovations and technology. Users can also check out their Publications and download their most recent Research and Development strategies in boosting Africa’s Rice Sector.

It’s also got a link to their Podcast, Videos and Photo Gallery. Users can also find relevant News about latest technologies that could help rice farmers increase their production. Quick links to their Facebook page and Twitter account are also included in this app.




AfricaRice is a new mobile app available for Android, iPhone and HTML5 compatible smartphones. 

To download the AfricaRice app for your mobile phone, go to: http://apps.monk.ee/africarice

To learn more about AfricaRice please visit: http://www.africarice.org/

To stay connected with AfricaRice, see mobile site : www.africarice.org/mobile

Download the App or just type www.africarice.org/mobile on any mobile browser and then save to bookmarks.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

L’innovation technologique devrait-elle être le dernier morceau du casse-tête de « l’écart de rendement » en Afrique ?

Un riziculteur sénégalais explique à un agent de vulgarisation
de notre organisation partenaire SAED comment il a accru
la productivité de son champ de riz
.
De nombreuses personnes, y compris mes parents, qui sont des riziculteurs au Japon, demandent souvent pourquoi je travaille en Afrique sur le riz, une culture normalement associée à l’Asie.

En effet, le riz a toujours été un aliment de base dans certains pays africains, où la consommation est même plus élevée qu’au Japon ! Et la consommation de riz augmente de façon exponentielle en Afrique, principalement à cause des changements dans les habitudes alimentaires et l’explosion démographique. Les paysans africains, souvent des femmes, cultivent le riz en conditions pluviales, avec des rendements d’environ 2 tonnes par hectare ; ce qui est beaucoup inférieur aux rendements moyens de riz qui sont à environ 4 tonnes par hectare. Le résultat est que la plupart du riz consommé en Afrique est importé d’Asie.

Pendant la crise alimentaire de 2007–2008, beaucoup de pays asiatiques ont réduit leurs exportations de riz. La pénurie soudaine a provoqué une hausse des prix qui a entraîné des soulèvements dans bon nombre de capitales africaines. Reconnaissant que la trop forte dépense sur les importations de riz est risquée, beaucoup de gouvernements africains de même que la communauté internationale des donateurs ont initié des programmes de développement du secteur rizicole. Les investisseurs étrangers s’intéressent aussi aux terres et aux eaux africaines pour la culture du riz. Comme résultat, la production rizicole augmente dans toute l’Afrique subsaharienne. Cependant, l’Afrique importe toujours environ 40 % du riz qu’elle consomme.

 Ecart de rendement entre riziculture irriguée et riziculture
pluviale dans les pays africains. AfricaRice travaille avec l’Université de
Nebraska et l’Université de Wageningen sur le projet
 “Global Yield Gap
and Water Productivity Atlas (GYGA)

(Saisie d’écran du site internet de GYGA).
Le Projet Global Yield Gap and Water Productivity Atlas – dans lequel le Centre du riz pour l’Afrique (AfricaRice) est impliqué – indique un grand potentiel pour améliorer le rendement rizicole en Afrique. Présentement, la différence entre le rendement obtenu en conditions de production optimales et les rendements réels (connue comme l’écart de rendement) se situe entre 2 et 8 tonnes par hectare.

                              
Où se situent ces écarts et comment pouvons-nous les combler ?
Pour répondre à ces questions, nous avons mis en place le Groupe d’action Agronomie rizicole à l’échelle de l’Afrique en 2011. Ce groupe d’action inclut le personnel d’AfricaRice de même que les agronomes de 21 pays africains, qui collaborent avec les paysans, les agents de vulgarisation et les partenaires au développement. Deux exemples démontrent la nature du travail initialement entrepris en vue d’appréhender les défis et les solutions.


 Page des résultats de l’outil d’aide à la décision RiceAdvice,
montrant le taux d’application des engrais et le timing recommandés
pour un champ particulier d’un paysan. Ces résultats sont générés par
RiceAdvice à partir des réponses des paysans aux questions sur
la gestion de leur terre et de leur culture.
A la fin des années 1990, la recherche menée par AfricaRice dans la vallée du fleuve Sénégal a montré que les paysans pouvaient augmenter leurs rendements d’une à deux tonnes par hectare sans augmenter les coûts de production, simplement en modifiant leurs pratiques agricoles. Par conséquent, les chercheurs ont développé des options de gestion intégrée de la riziculture de bas-fond irriguée, qui ont été disséminées à grande échelle.

Différents facteurs ont empêché les paysans pauvres d’adopter les nouvelles pratiques. Les paysans qui ne disposent pas de tracteur, par exemple, pourraient attendre longtemps un prestataire de services. S’ils n’ont pas accès au crédit, il pourrait s’avérer difficile pour les paysans d’acheter les engrais et autres intrants. Cela peut retarder le processus de production, avec de sérieuses implications pour le rendement.

Nous sommes en train de développer un outil d’aide à la décision basé sur une application Android appelé RiceAdvice, pour fournir aux paysans des recommandations adaptées à leurs propres circonstances (Photo 3). Cela devrait aboutir à des gains de rendement importants.  Cependant, nous ne devrons pas oublier d’alerter  les politiques et les décideurs sénégalais  aux niveaux régional et national sur la nécessité de créer un environnement favorable pour les paysans afin qu’ils appliquent les recommandations. Dans le cas contraire, tous nos efforts ne serviront à rien.

Dans le centre du Bénin, la riziculture pluviale peut donner 3 à 5 tonnes par hectare avec une bonne pluviométrie, mais en période de sécheresse, les rendements peuvent tomber au-dessous de 2 tonnes par hectare, ou échouer complètement.

Le développement de technologies intelligentes face au climat telles que les variétés résistantes à la sécheresse et les technologies qui conservent l’eau ou l’introduction d’autres cultures pourraient aider les paysans à faire face à la sécheresse, en particulier dans les zones de riziculture de plateau.

Cependant, j’aimerais soutenir que, là où cela est possible, la grande priorité devrait être accordée au développement de programmes d’irrigation et à la recherche des voies et moyens d’améliorer la maîtrise de l’eau dans les systèmes pluviaux, par exemple à travers la construction de diguettes et le nivellement des champs de bas-fond.

En abordant les questions de marché et les défis financiers et institutionnels et en assurant la disponibilité des terres avec une bonne maîtrise de l’eau ou de l’irrigation, nous pouvons aider les paysans à adopter facilement les bonnes pratiques agricoles telles que celles recommandées par RiceAdvice. Dans bien des cas, travailler avec les paysans pour améliorer la gestion de la riziculture constitue le dernier morceau du casse-tête pour combler l’écart de rendement !

Des fois je parle avec mes parents de la raison pour laquelle je travaille sur le riz. J’espère qu’un jour ils apprécieront manger du riz venu d’Afrique !

Blog et photos par Kazuki Saito, agronome riz et coordinateur du groupe d’action Agronomie à l’échelle de l’Afrique au Centre du riz pour l’Afrique (AfricaRice) – k.saito at cgiar.org


Friday, October 3, 2014

Training young rice researchers and extensionists from Africa in IRM

 A training course on Integrated Rice Management (IRM) was conducted at the AfricaRice Regional Center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 15 September to 3 October 2014. The objective of this training was to train young rice researchers and extension specialist from Africa for their comprehensive understanding of rice science and cultivation technologies. 

A total of 25 (16 male and 9 female) participants from seven English-speaking African countries: Ghana, The Gambia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania took part in this training.

The training sessions covered the history of rice cultivation, breeding methods, rice phenology, systems of rice culture, land preparation methods, crop establishment, nutrient-water-weed management, nutrient deficiencies and toxicities, pest and disease management and rice post-harvest technologies. A two-day field trip was conducted to two rice-growing areas of Tanzania for practical training. 

AfricaRice subject-matter specialists from Tanzania, Benin and Nigeria handled the training session and trained the participants. 

“The participant’s feedback at the end of the training was very positive and encouraging.  The trained participants are expected to train other rice researchers and extension specialists in their respective countries,” said the coordinator of this training session Dr Kalimuthu Senthilkumar, Agronomist, AfricaRice, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

This three-week training course was sponsored by the Japan Rice Emergency Initiative project of AfricaRice.