As part of its 2011-2020 Strategic Plan, AfricaRice is working with its partners across the continent to set up Rice Sector Development Hubs to concentrate research and development efforts, establish a critical mass, connect partners along the rice value chain, and facilitate the spread of innovations.
The hubs are testing grounds for new rice technologies and follow a “reverse-research approach,” that is, starting from the market.
The hubs bring together large groups of farmers (1,000–5,000) and partners from the whole rice value chain—input suppliers, seed producers, processors, millers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers—to facilitate change.
These represent key rice-growing environments and different market opportunities across African countries, and will be linked to major national or regional rice development efforts to speed up wider adoption of rice knowledge and technologies.
The geographic positioning of each hub is determined in national workshops convened by the national agricultural research and extension systems. As of today, national partners have identified 68 hubs in 24 West, Central, and East African countries.
Setting Africa’s priorities
In 2012, as a first step, national scientists, extension workers, and NGOs identified the factors that limit rice productivity and quality through surveys conducted in the 19 countries with value-chain partners.
They then tested and adapted innovations developed through the CGIAR Research Program on Rice – the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) – the Africa Rice Task Forces, and local innovations through participatory learning and action research with “first-generation” value-chain stakeholders.
The second generation gains access to the validated technologies, knowledge, and institutional arrangements via training of trainers (for capacity building), exchange visits, and video materials.
Once these mechanisms have validated the technologies, development partners will take the lessons and principles and make them available to the wider community served by the hubs and beyond to achieve development impact.