Friday, January 30, 2009

USAID and Africa Rice Center join hands to provide emergency assistance in West Africa

To assist vulnerable households who have been severely affected by soaring rice prices, the Africa Rice Center with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the USA Government’s Famine Prevention Fund facility, is spearheading a 2-year emergency project to boost the rice production in four West African countries – Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.

The project seeks to improve farmers’ access to: (i) high quality seed of improved rice varieties; (ii) mineral fertilizer; and (iii) best-bet rice knowledge.

It aims to assist at least 10,000 farm families, especially vulnerable households, and raise rice production by at least 30,000 tonnes in each of the project country through increased use of high-yielding rice varieties, improved farming methods and fertilizers.

The project is encouraging the involvement of the private sector in each country, particularly in the area of agro-input supply. It is also promoting community-based seed systems (CBSS).

In addition to the Africa Rice Center, the project partners include the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), IFDC, and national agricultural research and extension systems.

The USAID-funded rice emergency project was launched in each of the four project countries in January 2009 – 20 January (Senegal), 23 January (Mali), 27 January (Nigeria), 30 January (Ghana). All the stakeholders including the project partners, public and private sector representatives and NGOs participated.