Monday, November 18, 2019

AfricaRice teams up with Colorado State University, Cornell University and IRD to build capacity of young scientists in advanced crop improvement

AfricaRice, Colorado State University, Cornell University and IRD teamed up to organize a course on the "Advanced Crop Improvement (ACI): Meeting Challenges for Food Security," from 27 October to 9 November 2019 at the AfricaRice Regional Training Center, St. Louis, and IRD, Dakar in Senegal, with support from RICE CGIAR Research Program, The Griffin Foundation, NSF, IRD and MUSE.

Twenty-three young plant scientists (including 12 women) from Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, France, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, USA and Zimbabwe took part in the 2-week course. Instructors included resource persons from AfricaRice, Colorado State University, Cornell University, IRD, ISRA and the University of Düsseldorf.

Through the course, the participants gained:
  • A better understanding of crop production challenges for food security;
  • A better knowledge of modern crop improvement techniques;
  • Practical experience on how to communicate science to their peers and to the potential beneficiaries of their research;
  • Experience in accomplishing scientific work in a multicultural and multidisciplinary group.
The course offered opportunities to the participants to have a better understanding of the complexity of adopting new technologies in the developed and developing worlds and helped them see how the science of crop improvement intimately links to food security, the national and international politics of food and agriculture, and science communication.

Theoretical and practical learning was enhanced by discussions on how advanced technologies can be incorporated into crop improvement, and the sociological and economic issues for their acceptance by farmers and consumers.

As part of a team project, participants joined in the production of podcasts of interviews of consumers, growers, millers, marketers and scientists on issues related to crop production, nutrition and the adoption of new technologies.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

AfricaRice Annual Report 2018 highlights work on sustainable rice production in the face of climate emergency

The sense of urgency regarding climate change issues is growing around the world and in Africa, in particular, which is most at risk to the negative effects of climate change. AfricaRice scientists and their colleagues have paid considerable attention to climate change and its effects on the rice sector in Africa.

The AfricaRice Annual Report 2018 focuses on the Center’s continued work on sustainable rice production in the face of climate emergency. The following major research thrusts are particularly highlighted:
  • development of climate-smart rice varieties
  • crop-establishment method for flash flood-prone areas in inland valleys – the future ‘rice basket’ of the continent
  • drought prediction models
  • identification of valuable heat-tolerance genes from African rice (Oryza glaberrima)
  • impact of smart-valleys lowland development approach, and
  • promotion of climate-smart, sustainable best practices among African rice farmers
Other topics covered in the report include the Center’s focus on issues that contribute significantly to upgrading the rice value chain across Africa: gender and small-scale mechanization; rice husk gasifier; youth entrepreneurship in rice value chain; and partnerships, especially with FAO, for capacity strengthening along the rice value chain.

The report also provides brief information on 2018 publications, training, finance, donors and the Board of Trustees.

To read the report online  or download a pdf copy, please click here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

AfricaRice commits to global effort towards healthy diets on World Food Day 2019

The theme for this year’s World Food Day is “Our actions are our future – healthy diets for a #ZeroHunger World.” Improving food and nutrition security in Africa, where rice has become a strategic commodity for food security, is an integral part of the mission and work of AfricaRice.

“Rice is West Africa’s single most important source of dietary energy and the third most important for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole,” stated AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley. “Thus, improvement of the nutritional quality of rice-based diets is crucial to improving the health of African populations.”

Over the years, food security efforts have, in general, aimed at enhancing the availability of food by increasing production. Equal attention has, however, not been given to improving the quality of food. The Zero Hunger goal, or SDG2, specifies not only the need to end hunger by 2030 but, also, the need to improve access to nutritious food while using sustainable agricultural methods.

With the rise in food insecurity and obesity due to unhealthy diets, not only in developed countries, but also in low-income countries, this year’s World Food Day theme draws attention to the need for addressing malnutrition in all its forms.

In this context, it is interesting to note that a new international study by Japanese researchers, presented at the 2019 European Congress on Obesity, reveals that obesity levels are “substantially lower” in countries where rice consumption is high (150 grams per day) compared to countries with lower average rice intake (14 g per day).

The authors suggest that eating rice seems to protect against obesity, because the fiber, nutrients and plant compounds found in whole grains may increase feelings of fullness and prevent overeating. Rice has less fat and is rich in resistant starch, which can have several health benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, and various benefits for digestion.

The authors caution, however, that people who overeat rice are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and diabetes. To prevent obesity, therefore, an appropriate amount of rice intake might be necessary.

As part of its mission, AfricaRice seeks to develop healthier and more nutritious rice. The Center has developed an improved rice parboiling technology called GEM in short for ‘Grain quality enhancer, Energy-efficient and durable Material,’ which produces rice of high physical and eating quality compared with the traditional technology. It is more economical, less time-consuming and safer to operate, particularly for female and younger processors.

Parboiling of rice or partially boiling rice in the husk, is done in general to reduce the breakage in milling. AfricaRice researchers have found that if it is properly carried out, rice parboiling significantly improves the physical, eating and nutritional quality of the milled rice compared to non-parboiled rice.  

The nutritive value of the milled rice is enhanced by parboiling, because the micronutrients present in the bran, which is usually removed in the whitening process in the rice mill, are carried into the endosperm.

This special processing renders parboiled rice a better source of fiber, protein, calcium, potassium, thiamine, niacin and vitamin B-6, with a lower glycemic index and higher resistant starch content than regular white rice. Parboiled rice is therefore more nutritious than white rice.

In addition, parboiled rice has been shown to possess some unique cooking, flavor, and textural characteristics, which are appealing to certain groups of consumers. It is less liable to insect damage than milled raw rice and has an improved storage life.

Slower-digesting rice is a healthy option to help people with diabetes. AfricaRice is exploring the development of rice-based products with slower digestibility through processing.

AfricaRice recognizes, however, that rice cannot meet all nutritional needs and is therefore actively supporting dietary diversification in rice-based systems.

“We are immensely pleased to join the rest of the world in celebrating the World Food Day and contribute to its goal of healthy diets for a #ZeroHunger World,” Dr Roy-Macauley stated.

AfricaRice rejoint l’effort mondial pour une alimentation saine à l’occasion de la Journée mondiale de l'alimentation 2019

Le thème de la Journée mondiale de l'alimentation de cette année est « Agir pour l’avenir – une alimentation saine pour un monde #Faim Zéro ». L'amélioration de la sécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle en Afrique, où le riz est devenu une denrée stratégique pour la sécurité alimentaire, fait partie intégrante de la mission et des travaux d'AfricaRice.

« Le riz est la principale source d'énergie alimentaire en Afrique de l'Ouest et la troisième plus importante pour l'Afrique subsaharienne dans son ensemble », a déclaré Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, Directeur général d’AfricaRice. « De ce fait, l'amélioration de la qualité nutritionnelle de l’alimentation à base de riz est cruciale pour améliorer la santé des populations en Afrique ».

Au fil des ans, les efforts en matière de sécurité alimentaire en général ont visé à améliorer la disponibilité des aliments en augmentant la production, mais sans accorder la même attention à l'amélioration de la qualité. L'objectif Faim Zéro, ou ODD2, précise non seulement la nécessité d'éradiquer la faim d'ici 2030, mais aussi la nécessité d'améliorer l'accès à des aliments nutritifs tout en utilisant des méthodes agricoles durables.

Avec l'augmentation de l'insécurité alimentaire et de l'obésité due à une mauvaise alimentation, non seulement dans les pays développés, mais aussi dans les pays à faibles revenus, le thème de la Journée mondiale de l'alimentation de cette année attire l'attention sur la nécessité d’aborder la malnutrition sous toutes ses formes.

Dans ce contexte, il est intéressant de noter que selon une nouvelle étude internationale effectuée par des chercheurs japonais, présentée au Congrès européen contre l'obésité en 2019, les niveaux d'obésité sont « nettement inférieurs » dans les pays où la consommation de riz est élevée (150 grammes par jour) par rapport aux pays où la consommation moyenne de riz est plus faible (14 grammes par jour).

Les auteurs de ladite étude suggèrent que la consommation de riz semble protéger contre l'obésité, car les fibres, les nutriments et les composés végétaux présents dans les grains entiers peuvent augmenter la sensation de satiété et prévenir la suralimentation. Le riz contient moins de matières grasses et est riche en amidon résistant, ce qui peut avoir plusieurs avantages pour la santé, y compris une meilleure sensibilité à l'insuline, une baisse du taux de glycémie et divers avantages pour la digestion.

Les auteurs préviennent toutefois que les personnes qui mangent trop de riz sont plus susceptibles de développer un syndrome métabolique et le diabète. Par conséquent, pour prévenir l'obésité, une quantité appropriée de riz pourrait être nécessaire.

Dans le cadre de sa mission, AfricaRice cherche à mettre au point du riz plus sain et plus nutritif. Le Centre a mis au point une technologie améliorée d’étuvage du riz appelée GEM, qui produit du riz dont la qualité physique et gustative est supérieure à celui issu des méthodes traditionnelles. Il est plus économique, moins long et plus sûr à utiliser, en particulier pour les femmes et les jeunes transformateurs.

L'étuvage du riz ou l'ébullition partielle du riz dans sa balle, est généralement effectué pour réduire le taux de brisures pendant l’usinage. Les chercheurs d'AfricaRice ont constaté que si correctement réalisé, l'étuvage du riz améliore considérablement la qualité physique, gustative et nutritionnelle du riz usiné par rapport au riz non étuvé.

La valeur nutritive du riz blanchi est augmentée par l’étuvage, car les micronutriments présents dans le son, qui sont généralement éliminés lors du processus de blanchiment dans la rizerie, sont transportés dans l'endosperme. Le riz étuvé est donc plus nutritif que le riz blanc.

En raison de cette transformation spéciale, le riz étuvé est une meilleure source de fibres, de protéines, de calcium, de potassium, de thiamine, de niacine et de vitamine B-6 que le riz blanc ordinaire et a un indice glycémique plus faible et une teneur en amidon résistant plus élevée.

De plus, il a été démontré que le riz étuvé possède des caractéristiques liées à la cuisson, au parfum et à la texture particulières qui plaisent à certains groupes de consommateurs. Il est moins susceptible d'être infesté par les insectes que le riz cru blanc et a une durée de conservation plus longue.

Le riz à digestion lente est une option saine pour aider les personnes atteintes de diabète. AfricaRice envisage la mise au point de produits à base de riz à digestibilité plus lente grâce à une transformation appropriée.

AfricaRice toutefois reconnaît que le riz ne peut répondre à tous les besoins nutritionnels et de ce fait soutient activement la diversification alimentaire dans les systèmes à base riz.

« Nous sommes extrêmement heureux de nous joindre au reste du monde pour célébrer la Journée mondiale de l'alimentation et de contribuer à son objectif d’alimentation saine pour un monde # Faim Zéro », a déclaré Dr Roy-Macauley.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Malagasy women farmers lead the way in closing the rice yield gap through Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)

(Blog post courtesy of AfricaRice-Madagascar team based on discussions on the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women 2019 with three lead women rice farmers in Vakinankaratra region, empowered with GAP training thanks to the TAAT Rice Compact.)

The Rice Compact of the Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT) program is being implemented in Madagascar in the region of Vakinankaratra. During the 2018-2019 cropping season, its objective was the dissemination of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to rice farmers by establishing 45 demonstration plots managed by lead farmers who were trained in GAP at the beginning of the season.

AfricaRice collaborated with two organizations namely VFTV-FIFATA[1], an umbrella organization of farmers' associations and the GTDR-D[2] responsible for rural development in the region. More than 2,400 producers participated and learned about GAP through the organized field days and regular exchanges within their groups and communities. Among the 45 lead farmers who allocated a plot of their farms for GAP application and demonstration were 14 female farmers, three women from VFTV-FIFATA and 11 women associated with GTDR-D. On the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women 2019, we discussed with three of these lead women farmers, living in the district of Antsirabe 2, Vakinankaratra.

Mme RATISBONNE Nasolonjanahary Hortense, who is simply known as Mme Nasolo, is the president of Manovosoa Association of women in the rural community of Ambano, which currently includes 13 members. Mme Nasolo got the best yield of all the demonstration plots supervised by GTDR-D: in the rainfed ecology, the rice yield in her plot was close to 4 t/ha. According to her, the quantity could have been doubled if the crop calendar was respected.

Mme RAVONIHERIMANANTSOA Haja Claire or Mme Avotra as named after the rural women association “Avotra” for which she is the president in the rural community of Fandrendrano Andranomanelatra, estimated her yield to be about 2.4 t/ha, the biggest challenge being the intense hailstorms that occurred in March 2019 and destroyed her crop. She said that however, in comparison with other rice crops around her field, hers was the best, most probably due to the variety used (FOFIFA 174) which resulted in a high number of tillers.

The same story was echoed by Mme RAHARIMALA Céléstine of the rural community of Soanindrariny and a member of VFTV-FIFATA at Ambano, who, on her 1.5 are[3] demonstration plot in the lowland irrigated ecology, doubled her rice yield from 90 kg with own practice to 180 kg with GAP application.

The three women credit their achievements to GAP. According to Mme Nasolo, , farmers just used a “tracer” earlier for sowing, which makes straight lines on the soil and they would just follow it to manually drill the rice seeds. But they did not know the seed rate.  The same practice was followed in the application of organic and chemical fertilizers as they would just broadcast fertilizers without knowing the appropriate quantity. 

But thanks to the TAAT Rice Compact and equipped with GAP knowledge, they used the 20x20 cm space between holes, noting that “there is a big difference, now we know exactly the number of grains per hole, which should be from four to seven grains and the fertilizer quantity is also calculated – one hand per hole for organic fertilizer – and we do not broadcast any more. For chemical fertilizer it is 2.5 kg NPK/are and 1.5 kg Urea/are now, while previously each application of NPK could for instance be as high as 3 to 4 kg/are”. 

Also, while she was weeding only two times earlier, she did it four times after GAP training, surprisingly with a lower number of laborers and consequently at a lower cost; for example, before she needed 20 man-days labor for the two times of weeding, but now the total is only about 12 man-days labor for the four times of weeding.

Mme Nasolo explained that for the first weeding (15 days after seeding), they practiced manual weeding, for the second and third weeding (always 15 days after the previous weeding) they combined manual and mechanical weeding, and for the last weeding, it was manual weeding. “My neighbor farmers asked me about this, and they did not believe when I said that I did not use chemical herbicide as there are fewer weeds”; said Mr Nasolo, and adding, “I think I would have got around 6 t/ha if the beginning of the crop season was earlier”.

Mme Avotra who followed the same practices agreed that by putting many grains per hole and using a lot of seeds, she believed earlier that she would get more yield because of the small distance between holes, but with GAP, she reduced the seed quantity. The application of fertilizer used to be random, as “I used only what I had without any calculation of appropriate quantity, putting seed, chemical and organic fertilizers together in the holes”. She learnt to spread organic fertilizer before plowing and to put only NPK when sowing.  Ms Avotra also noted the advantage of regular weeding, compared to the earlier case of weeding when she was free, implying that there were a lot of weeds. She declared that with GAP she spent less time in weeding and there were fewer weeds.

Rice farming in the irrigated lowland involves transplanting. Mme Celestine says that with GAP, she learnt how to make the seeds germinate quickly by soaking in water for 36 hours and then covering them in a bag for 48 hours for uniform sprouting. Consequently, “within 15 days after sowing, we can transplant young seedlings with two leaves whereas in our previous practices, we were transplanting 3-week old seedlings”, she said.

Moreover, she was planting four or five seedlings per hill producing only about 10 tillers, whereas with GAP, the number of tillers increased to 30 per hill, hence the increase in yield. Mme Celestine said: “it seems like I really played when I transplanted; it was the same case for weeding as there were fewer weeds and the spacing really facilitated the mechanical weeding. Other farmers and I did not believe until we saw the yield”.

Like other women above, Mme Celestine was earlier using a small quantity of organic manure and did not use chemical fertilizer at all. With GAP, she spread 3 carts of organic manure three days before harrowing, added 3 kg/are of NPK just after transplanting and 2kg/are of Urea after the first mechanical weeding and then another application of 1.5 kg/are of NPK after the second weeding. Besides, she placed small irrigation canals on all the edges of her plot to ease the water circulation thereby also preventing insects from entering the rice field.

The three lead women farmers are fully convinced about the advantages of GAP: in terms of the reduced seed rate, reduced labor and increased yield. Mme Celestine has even started to make plans for transplanting for this coming season, noting that previously she used 50 kg for 30 ares, but now she needs only 10 kg of seeds for 30 ares with these new techniques, transplanting at 20x25 cm spacing.

While the women are ready to continue the GAP practices and lead the labor and fellow farmers, they anticipate challenges in acquiring the appropriate quantity of inorganic fertilizer for all their plots due to lack of funds. Despite these challenges, having noticed the big difference between their usual practices and the results following good practices, they will certainly continue and extend GAP on other plots. As true leaders, they indicated to do so especially on the first set of demonstration plots, because “farmers don’t believe until they see for themselves the results,” as Mme Nasolo said.

Mme Celestine is anticipating a special training to be provided by VFTV-FIFATA, as there are many farmers (around 40 farmers) who showed real interest in GAP. She already has plans to start the rice farming activities for this season, guiding the other members of her association and neighborhood farmers, who are interested with GAP and teaching them the practices.

The three women indicated that they have chosen to keep the harvested produce as seed for the coming season for them and for the other members of their associations, who were very involved and followed each activity on their demonstration plots and other farmers in the neighborhood.

Mme Celestine however added that they also need to learn improved techniques since the yield is not only due to the choice of variety and seeds but also because of following all the GAP.  She concluded by saying “I really see the difference with these new techniques, my dream is that after one or two years, with my plots of 30 area, my family can be self-sufficient, and we can even get a surplus of 1 ton so that we can buy enough inorganic fertilizers”. 

The TAAT program, initiated by the African Development Bank (AfDB) as part of its Feed Africa Initiative, seeks to improve the business of agriculture across Africa by raising agricultural productivity, mitigating risks and promoting diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight Priority Intervention Areas (PIA). The TAAT Rice Compact, led by AfricaRice is currently being implemented in seven focus countries, including Madagascar.

[1] FIkambanana FAmpivoarana ny TAntsaha ou association pour le progrès des paysans (
[2] Groupe de Travail pour le Développement Regional Durable
[3] 1 are=100 square meters

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Seed enterprises from 8 African countries trained in hybrid rice seed production and quality assurance at AfricaRice Training Center in Senegal

Twenty representatives from small and medium seed enterprises, including three women, from eight countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal) participated in a training course on hybrid rice seed production and quality assurance, 2-6 September 2019, at the AfricaRice Training Center in Saint Louis, Senegal.

As part of their approach to catalyze agribusiness and entrepreneurship development in the rice value chain with the active involvement of seed enterprises, the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF) through its USAID funded Program ‘PAIRED’ and the Rice Compact of the African Development Bank-funded Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) project jointly organized the training course.

The principle behind the organization of the training course is the growing consensus among key stakeholders and scientific community is that effective scaling up of improved technologies will make a big impact on economic growth and overall livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa.

The main objective of the training course was to strengthen the capacity of seed businesses of rice value chains to produce and market hybrid rice seeds and help contribute to food and nutrition security in Africa. The training also aimed at enabling participants to contribute to the outscaling and wide dissemination of hybrid rice technology.

The course included oral presentations and practical work in the field relating to hybrid rice cultivation, hybrid seed production and quality assurance. Discussions covered topics on licensing arrangements between research and seed businesses relating to hybrid seed production.

AfricaRice has developed many promising high-yielding hybrid lines since the initiation of its hybrid rice program for Africa in 2010 under the leadership of Dr Raafat El-Namaky, Hybrid Rice Breeder from the Rice Research and Training Centre (RRTC), Egypt, who headed the AfricaRice hybrid rice breeding program from 2009 to 2018. The aromatic hybrid rice variety AR051H, developed by AfricaRice, was released in 2017 by the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural research (ISRA) as ISRIZ 09. 

Dr El-Namaky was invited as the principal resource person for the training course. He was supported by seed specialists from CORAF and AfricaRice.

In close partnership with ISRA, the TAAT Rice Compact has developed a joint action plan to create awareness on the hybrid rice; actively engage private seed companies in partnership models for the promotion of hybrids; and develop a roadmap for the outscaling of the improved hybrid aromatic variety (ISRIZ 09) on a sustainable basis.

Based on this plan, the TAAT Rice Compact has invited interested private seed enterprises to a consultation meeting in Senegal on seed production and dissemination of the hybrid rice developed by AfricaRice in 2019. It has also organized field days at its Research Station in M’bé, Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire, and at its Regional Center in Saint Louis, Senegal, to showcase the performance of hybrid rice varieties developed by AfricaRice.

Friday, September 6, 2019

RiceAdvice app in the spotlight at AGRF 2019 exhibition

RiceAdvice – a science-backed decision support tool that provides farm-specific advice on rice management practices in Africa – drew the attention of visitors to the booth showcasing technologies promoted under the program “Putting Research into Use for Nutrition, Sustainable Agriculture and Resilience (PRUNSAR),” at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2019, 3-6 September, in Accra, Ghana.

The use of RiceAdvice, which is a free Android app developed by AfricaRice, increases yield by 0.5-1 per hectare and brings a profit margin increase of US$100-200 per ha per growing season. It has been piloted in 13 African countries and has reached about 30,000 rice farmers. Potential beneficiaries are expected to be at least 3 million households in Africa. 

The tool was showcased as part of the technologies that are being promoted by AfricaRice and its partners in Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal through PRUNSAR, which is co-funded by the European Union and IFAD. The overall aim of the project carried out by AfricaRice is to sustainably intensify rice-based farming systems, while minimizing their environmental footprint and adapting them to climate change.

More than 2,000 high-level dignitaries and representatives of development institutions, international organizations, tech leaders, agri-preneurs, farmer associations and non-governmental organizations, among others, participated at AGRF 2019, which was organized under the theme “Grow digital: Leveraging digital transformation to drive sustainable food systems in Africa.”

A major highlight of the AGRF was the Presidential Summit – a high-level panel led by the President of Ghana, H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo. The leaders discussed what various governments are doing in the area of agriculture digitalization, including digital infrastructure and digital policies.

As part of the agenda on ‘Advancing the Continental Agenda – Partners Commitments’ within the Presidential Summit, Dr. Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Executive Director, CGIAR System Organisation, spoke on CGIAR’s involvement in agricultural research for development in Africa and its capacity to respond to the continent’s development challenges. He highlighted that by adopting the Nerica rice varieties, 8 million people were lifted out of poverty in 16 African countries and about 7.2 million people are no longer food-insecure. 

  • Scenes from AGRF 2019 
  • Dr Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Executive Director, CGIAR System Organisation speaking at the Plenary - Presidential Summit, Advancing the continental agenda - Partners Commitments, African Green Revolution Forum 2019 (AGRF 2019), 3-6 September 2019, Accra, Ghana.
    Video:  Audio podcast:

Related link: 

Monday, August 26, 2019

AfricaRice and Africa Harvest join forces with national partners to boost East Africa’s rice productivity and competitiveness

  • Project to address rice value chain constraints, strengthen functional linkages and improve capacity of farmers and input dealers, millers and marketers
  • About 18,000 stakeholders, including rice farmers, seed producers, extension service providers, processors and national research staff in Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar to benefit
  • At least 40% targets to be women and 20% youth aged 15-35 years
Nairobi, Kenya, 26 August 2019 - With support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), two premier institutes for agricultural development in Africa – the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) and the Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International (Africa Harvest) – are launching a project in partnership with national programs to enhance the performance of the local rice value chains in Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar, based on innovative institutional approaches and knowledge products.

“This important IFAD-funded project comes at an opportune moment, as we have announced this year that our aim is to achieve self-sufficiency in rice by boosting output to 400,000 tonnes by 2022, under our ‘Big Four’ economic agenda,” stated Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, Government of Kenya. “We count on the expertise of AfricaRice, Africa Harvest and our scientists to assist in capacity strengthening and reduction of postharvest losses.”

Titled ‘Strengthening the rice sector in East Africa for improved productivity and competitiveness of domestic rice’ (EARiSS), the 3-year project will adapt appropriate rice technologies and innovations to address emerging rice value chain constraints, strengthen functional linkages among key rice stakeholders using multi-stakeholder innovation platforms (IPs), and improve capacity of farmers and other rice value chain actors, including input dealers, millers and marketers.

About 18,000 stakeholders, including rice farmers, seed producers, extension service providers, processors and national research staff in Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar are expected to benefit directly from this project. At least 40% of this target group is expected to be women, and at least 20% youth aged 15-35 years.

Indirect beneficiaries include other rice value chain actors, such as farm input dealers, equipment fabricators, transporters, micro-finance providers, non-governmental organizations and policymakers. The outputs of the project will be relevant for at least 100,000 rice-farming households in East Africa.

“We are fortunate to work with Africa Harvest and our national partners in Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar on this project, which will help harness our combined knowledge and experience to address challenges along the rice value chain of these three countries,” said Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, AfricaRice Director General. “We take this opportunity to convey our sincere thanks to IFAD for enabling research outputs to contribute directly to targeted development outcomes.”

Rice is one of the key strategic crops for food security and a source of income for rice value chain actors in the project countries. Despite increases in rice production, the local supply however, has not been able to meet the growing demand, driven by changing consumer preferences and rapid urbanization. The rice import bill has therefore risen sharply and is estimated at US$ 500 million per year, in East Africa.

“It is unacceptable that 80% of Kenya’s rice is imported, when we have all the potential to produce it here,” stated Dr Florence Wambugu, Chief Executive Officer of Africa Harvest. “That is why, it is so important that AfricaRice, which is known for its climate-smart technologies, adapted to African conditions, can bring to bear its expertise in boosting the rice sector in the project countries.”

Expressing her optimism about the project’s potential, Dr Wambugu said, “Equipped with knowledge, innovative technologies and requisite skills along the rice value chain, in combination with strong political support and adequate investment in the rice sector, our rice stakeholders can make local rice production internationally competitive.”

In addition to helping bridge the widening rice production-consumption gap, the project is expected to contribute to the improvement of food and nutrition security, sustainable agricultural development, creation of rural employment for women and youth, reduction in the rice import bill and economic development in the project countries.

The project is linked to the national rice development strategies (NRDS) in the three countries and is aligned with IFAD objectives, as it will (a) promote the out scaling of innovative, pro-poor approaches and technologies through the IPs to achieve greater impact; (b) strengthen partners’ institutional capacities; (c) enhance advocacy and policy engagement; and (d) enhance and share generated knowledge for development impact.

It will be implemented in close association with the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the National Irrigation Board (NIB) in Kenya; the National Center for Applied Research on Rural Development (FOFIFA) in Madagascar; and the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) in Uganda.
Key project activities include the following:
  1. Promoting promising varieties and agronomic practices for enhanced productivity and reduced yield gap in the rice hubs;
  2. Promoting appropriate seed production practices and delivery mechanisms;
  3. Enhancing the capacity of rice value chain actors in post-harvest management and marketing of quality rice whilst promoting gender related activities.
“The project activities will be implemented in an interdisciplinary manner through IPs located in rice hubs in the project countries,” said Dr Edgar Twine, AfricaRice Marketing and Rice Value Chain Expert and EARiSS project Coordinator.

About Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)
AfricaRice is a pan-African research-for-development (R4D) intergovernmental association of African member countries. It is also a CGIAR Research Center – part of a global research partnership for a food-secure future.
About Africa Harvest
Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International is a non-profit agricultural organization whose mission is to use science and technology, gender-sensitive, appropriate agricultural technologies and innovative institutional approaches to improve livelihoods of rural communities, particularly smallholder farmers.

For more information contact: 
Savitri Mohapatra, AfricaRice Head of Marketing & Communications, +225 795 851 59;
Edgar Twine, AfricaRice Marketing & Rice Value Chain Expert, +256 775 914 074;
Grace Mukasa, Africa Harvest Communications Manager, +254 711 794 081;
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AfricaRice, Africa Harvest et les partenaires nationaux conjuguent leurs efforts pour redynamiser la productivité et la compétitivité du riz en Afrique de l'Est

  • Projet pour répondre aux contraintes de la chaîne de valeur du riz, renforcer les liens fonctionnels et améliorer les capacités des agriculteurs et des négociants en intrants, des usiniers et des commerçants
  • Environ 18 000 acteurs, dont des riziculteurs, des producteurs de semences, des prestataires de services de vulgarisation, des transformateurs et des agents de la recherche nationaux au Kenya, en Ouganda et à Madagascar devraient bénéficier de ce projet
  • Au moins 40 % de ce groupe cible seraient des femmes et au moins 20 % des jeunes de 15 à 35 ans
Nairobi, Kenya, 26 août 2019. Avec l'appui du Fonds international de développement agricole (FIDA), deux instituts de premier plan dans le domaine du développement agricole en Afrique – le Centre du riz pour l'Afrique (AfricaRice) et Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International (Africa Harvest) – lancent un projet en partenariat avec des programmes nationaux pour améliorer la performance des chaînes de valeur locales du riz au Kenya, en Ouganda et à Madagascar, basé sur des approches institutionnelles novatrices et des produits issus de la connaissance.

« Cet important projet financé par le FIDA arrive à point nommé, car nous avons annoncé cette année que notre objectif est d'atteindre l'autosuffisance en riz en portant la production à 400 000 tonnes d'ici 2022, dans le cadre de notre programme économique « Big Four », a déclaré Mwangi Kiunjuri, Secrétaire de Cabinet, du ministère de l'Agriculture, de l'Élevage, de la Pêche et de l'Irrigation du gouvernement du Kenya. « Nous comptons sur l'expertise d'AfricaRice, d'Africa Harvest et de nos chercheurs pour contribuer au renforcement des capacités et à la réduction des pertes post-récolte. »

Intitulé « Renforcer le secteur rizicole en Afrique de l'Est pour améliorer la productivité et la compétitivité du riz local » (EARiSS), le projet de 3 ans adaptera les technologies et les innovations rizicoles appropriées pour répondre aux contraintes émergentes de la chaîne de valeur du riz, renforcer les liens fonctionnels entre les principaux acteurs du secteur rizicole en utilisant des plateformes d'innovation multi-acteurs (PI) et en améliorant les capacités des agriculteurs et des autres acteurs de la chaîne de valeur du riz, y compris les négociants en intrants, les usiniers et les commerçants.

Environ 18 000 acteurs, dont des riziculteurs, des producteurs de semences, des prestataires de services de vulgarisation, des transformateurs et des agents de la recherche nationaux au Kenya, en Ouganda et à Madagascar devraient bénéficier directement de ce projet. Au moins 40 % de ce groupe cible devraient être des femmes et au moins 20 % des jeunes de 15 à 35 ans.

Les bénéficiaires indirects comprennent d'autres acteurs de la chaîne de valeur du riz, tels que les négociants en intrants agricoles, les fabricants d'équipements, les transporteurs, les fournisseurs de microfinancement, les organisations non-gouvernementales et les décideurs politiques. Les résultats du projet seront pertinents pour au moins 100 000 ménages de riziculteurs d'Afrique de l'Est.

« Nous avons la chance de travailler avec Africa Harvest et nos partenaires nationaux au Kenya, en Ouganda et à Madagascar sur ce projet, qui nous aiderons à exploiter nos connaissances et notre expérience combinées pour relever les défis de la chaîne de valeur du riz dans ces trois pays », a déclaré Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, Directeur général d’AfricaRice. « Nous saisissons cette occasion pour adresser nos sincères remerciements au FIDA pour avoir permis aux résultats de la recherche de contribuer directement à des résultats de développement ciblés. »

Le riz est l'une des principales cultures stratégiques pour la sécurité alimentaire et une source de revenus pour les acteurs de la chaîne de valeur du riz dans les pays du projet. Malgré l'augmentation de la production de riz, l'offre locale n'a toutefois pas été en mesure de satisfaire la demande croissante, en raison de l'évolution des préférences des consommateurs et de l'urbanisation rapide. En Afrique de l'Est, la facture des importations de riz a donc fortement augmenté et est estimée à 500 millions de dollars US par an.

« Il est inacceptable que 80 % du riz au Kenya soit importé alors que nous avons tout le potentiel pour le produire ici », a déclaré Dr Florence Wambugu, Directrice générale d'Africa Harvest. « C'est pourquoi, il est si important qu'AfricaRice, qui est connu pour ses technologies intelligentes face au climat, adaptées aux conditions africaines, puisse mettre à profit son expertise dans la relance du secteur rizicole dans les pays du projet. »

Exprimant son optimisme quant au potentiel du projet, Dr Wambugu a ajouté : « nos acteurs de la riziculture – dotés de connaissances, de technologies innovantes et de compétences requises sur l’ensemble de la chaîne de valeur du riz – en combinaison avec un soutien politique fort et des investissements adéquats dans le secteur rizicole peuvent rendre la production locale de riz compétitive sur le plan international ».

En plus de contribuer à combler l'écart croissant entre la production et la consommation de riz, le projet devrait contribuer à l'amélioration de la sécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle, au développement agricole durable, à la création d'emplois ruraux pour les femmes et les jeunes, à la réduction de la facture des importations de riz et au développement économique dans les pays concernés.

Le projet est lié aux Stratégies nationales de développement de la riziculture (SNDR) dans les trois pays et est aligné sur les objectifs du FIDA, car il permettra : a) de promouvoir l'adoption d'approches et de technologies novatrices et favorables aux pauvres par le biais des PI pour obtenir un impact plus important ; b) de renforcer les capacités institutionnelles des partenaires ; c) de renforcer les activités de plaidoyer et d'action ; et d) de développer et de partager la connaissance générée pour un impact du développement.

Il sera mis en œuvre en étroite collaboration avec l'Organisation kenyane de recherche sur l'agriculture et l'élevage (KALRO) et le Conseil national de l’irrigation (NIB) au Kenya, le Centre national de recherche appliquée sur le développement rural (FOFIFA) à Madagascar et l’Organisation nationale de recherche agricole (NARO) en Ouganda.

Les principales activités du projet sont les suivantes :

  1. Promouvoir des variétés et des pratiques agronomiques prometteuses pour améliorer la productivité et réduire l'écart de rendement dans les pôles rizicoles ;
  2. Promouvoir des pratiques appropriées de production de semences et des mécanismes de livraison appropriés ;
  3. Renforcer les capacités des acteurs de la chaîne de valeur du riz en matière de gestion post-récolte et de commercialisation du riz de qualité, tout en encourageant les activités liées au genre.
« Les activités du projet seront mises en œuvre de manière interdisciplinaire par l'intermédiaire des PI situés dans les pôles rizicoles des pays du projet », a déclaré le Dr Edgar Twine, Expert en marketing et chaîne de valeur du riz et coordinateur du projet EARiSS à AfricaRice.

Le Centre du riz pour l'Afrique (AfricaRice)
AfricaRice est une association intergouvernementale panafricaine de recherche pour le développement regroupant des pays membres africains. AfricaRice est également un centre de recherche du CGIAR - faisant partie d'un partenariat mondial de la recherche agricole pour un futur sans faim.

Africa Harvest
Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International est une organisation agricole à but non lucratif dont la mission est d'utiliser la science et la technologie, des technologies agricoles appropriées et sensibles au genre, ainsi que des approches institutionnelles innovantes pour améliorer les moyens de subsistance des communautés rurales, en particulier des petits exploitants.

Pour plus d'informations, contacter :
Savitri Mohapatra, AfricaRice Head of Marketing & Communications, +225 795 851 59;
Edgar Twine, AfricaRice Marketing & Rice Value Chain Expert, +256 775 914 074;
Grace Mukasa, Africa Harvest Communications Manager, +254 711 794 081;
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Friday, August 16, 2019

AfDB-TAAT promotes trailblazing hybrid rice technology adapted to Africa

16 August 2019, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The Rice Compact of the African Development Bank-funded project on Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) is paving the way for rice transformation in sub-Saharan Africa by promoting locally-adapted high-yielding hybrid rice varieties developed by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice).

One such trailblazer is AR051H, which is the first hybrid rice variety released by the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research (ISRA) in Senegal under the name ISRIZ-9 in 2017. With high yield potential of 11-13 t/ha, long slender grains and good milling quality, ISRIZ-9, is aromatic, a trait that is highly appreciated by Senegalese consumers.

As a result of heterosis (hybrid vigor), hybrid rice typically shows a yield advantage of 15‒20% over the best conventionally bred varieties (inbreds) grown under the same conditions. It can provide an avenue for African rice farmers to boost rice yields and improve profitability. Moreover, hybrid rice seed production can be a lucrative business for seed companies and create employment opportunities for Africa’s youth.

As part of its approach to catalyze agribusiness and entrepreneurship development in the rice value chain with the active involvement of seed enterprises, the TAAT Rice Compact facilitated the large-scale demonstration of ISRIZ-9 seed production at a Field Day organized by AfricaRice and ISRA at the AfricaRice Regional Center in Saint Louis, Senegal, on 6 August 2019.

“Hybrid rice technology developed for Africa is a magnificent achievement as it can revolutionize our rice production.” declared Mr Cheikh Sidi Vall from SRIA, a major seed enterprise in Mauritania. “We are very keen to test and adopt this in our country.” Mr Vall was one of the 77 participants from five countries (Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and Egypt), who attended the Field Day.

Thanking AfricaRice and the TAAT project, Mrs Penda Cissé, Founder/Director of the FEPRODES women rice producers’ association in Saint Louis, remarked, “While research is continuing to develop productive rice varieties and hybrids like these, we farmers and seed producers must also adopt these new technologies, so that we can reduce rice imports and make our country self-sufficient in rice.”

According to Dr Sidi Sanyang, TAAT Rice Coordinator and AfricaRice Leader for the Rice Sector Development Program, the main purpose of the Field Day was to initiate functional partnerships with seed enterprises in the production and commercialization of hybrid rice seeds and contribute to food and nutrition security in Africa.

“As part of the next step, seed enterprises are expected to support large-scale hybrid demonstrations in farmers’ fields with technical backstopping from AfricaRice and ISRA,” Dr Sanyang explained. Seed of ISRIZ-9 and a few other promising hybrid lines developed by AfricaRice will be provided for these demonstrations.

The Field Day included an in-depth group discussion and question-answer session on the hybrid rice technology, which was coordinated by Dr Baboucarr Manneh, AfricaRice Irrigated Rice Breeder. “We have new hybrid lines, some of which are better than ISRIZ-9 and have yield potential of up to 14-15 t/ha,” Dr Manneh revealed during the discussions. 

For a new technology such as hybrid rice in sub-Saharan Africa, capacity development is critical to its long-term sustainability. The TAAT Rice Compact and the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF) are partnering to initiate training in hybrid rice seed production. 

“It is important for local companies to be trained in hybrid rice seed production as there are risks of rice diseases spreading through hybrid seed brought from outside Africa,” stated Dr Raafat El-Namaky, Hybrid Rice Breeder from the Rice Research and Training Centre (RRTC), Egypt, who led the AfricaRice hybrid rice breeding program from 2009 to 2018. 

Dr El-Namaky – who can claim the title of ‘Father of AfricaRice hybrid rice’ –spearheaded the development of almost 800 hybrids and their parental lines at AfricaRice. Some of these hybrids have been evaluated in several African countries. “AfricaRice has now more than 50 promising hybrids and at least 15 of these are ready for release and wide-scale adoption,” he told the participants of the Field Day. 

In addition to participants from ISRA, AfricaRice and RRTC, the Field Day was attended by representatives from the following sectors, among others:
  • Agribusiness, seed enterprises and associations from Senegal, Mauritania and Mali (CNT, CASL, SEDAB, FASO-KABA, FEPRODES, GIE AGRITECH, GIE DYNN, UNIS, SRIA, KORKA RICE);
  •  Donor community (USAID, Syngenta Foundation);
  • Research, development and extension organizations and university from Senegal and Mauritania (DRDR, SODAGRI, SAED, UGB, CNRADA, SONADER);
  • Rice farmers and seed producers from Senegal; and
  •  National and local media agencies
Thanking the African Development Bank for its strong support to the promotion of the hybrid rice technology in Africa through the TAAT project and all the participants for their active participation, Dr Karim Traoré, interim head of the AfricaRice Regional Center in Saint Louis, Senegal, stated “Hybrid rice means agri-business. All the key partners will work together to develop win-win public-private partnership models so that our farmers and seed enterprises can fully benefit from this technology.”

Photos from the Field Day to showcase the performance of hybrid rice varieties developed by AfricaRice, 6 August 2019, Saint Louis, Senegal  

Podcasts from the Field Day to showcase the performance of hybrid rice varieties developed by AfricaRice, 6 August 2019, Saint Louis, Senegal:

Interview : Raafat El-Namaky, Hybrid Rice Breeder, Rice Research and Training Center (RRTC), Egypt

Interview : Sidi Sanyang, AfricaRice TAAT Rice Compact Coordinator

Entretien avec Mme Penda Guèye Cissé, Fondatrice/Directrice de «FEPRODES», Saint Louis, Sénégal

Entretien avec Abdoul Aziz Diop, Ingénieur travaux agriculture, Institut sénégalais de recherches agricoles (ISRA), Sénégal

Entretien avec Sidi Cheikh S. Vall, Producteur de semences, SRIA, Mauritanie

Entretien avec Sow Abdoulaye, Centre national de recherche agronomique et de développement agricole (CNRADA), Mauritanie

Presentation : Raafat El-Namaky, Hybrid Rice Breeder, Rice Research and Training Center (RRTC), Egypt (Dr Baboucarr Manneh, AfricaRice Irrigated Rice Breeder, interpreting into French Dr Raafat El-Namaky's presentation)

Présentation de Karim Traoré, Représentant régional d’AfricaRice (par intérim), Saint Louis, Sénégal

Présentation de Sidi Sanyang, Coordinateur d’AfricaRice du Compact Riz-TAAT

Présentation de Abdoul Aziz Diop, Ingénieur travaux agriculture, Institut sénégalais de recherches agricoles (ISRA), Sénégal

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