Friday, January 23, 2015

Optimizing South-South collaboration in rice mechanization

The concluding workshop for the project on “South-South Collaboration in Rice Mechanization,” funded by the European Union through the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), was held, 21-23 January 2015, at the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) in Cotonou, Benin. The project is coordinated by AfricaRice in close partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Thirty-two international and national rice mechanization experts from the public and private sectors, including 20 participants from 13 African countries attended. The workshop provided an opportunity to share information on the following areas: the achievements of the project; AfricaRice R&D activities on mechanization; rice mechanization in Africa; experience in importing agricultural machinery to Africa; the Rice Mechanization Platform; standardization and certification; and public-private partnership. 

The workshop highlighted the following achievements of the project:
  • An Africa-wide Rice Mechanization Task Force has been set up to assess the status of mechanization within each country, introduce and test equipment for adoption and enhance local capacity for manufacturing
  • Local artisans from several countries have been trained in the fabrication of some equipment and out-scaling has already started. For example, Nigeria aims to produce at least 1000 units of the ASI thresher. 
  • The virtual South-South collaboration platform on rice mechanization has been created.
  • African mechanization experts have visited Brazil and Thailand and have greatly benefited from their interactions with stakeholders along the rice value chains in these countries. 

During the closing workshop, participants visited the AfricaRice mechanization workshop and the Songhai Center’s equipment unit in Porto Novo, Benin. The last day was spent deliberating on how to improve the level and quality of rice mechanization in Africa and future collaboration between Africa, Latin America and Asia as well as on how to sustain the Africa-wide Rice Mechanization Task Force and the virtual knowledge-sharing platform. The recommendations emphasized the need to go beyond needs assessment to out-scaling by raising awareness and through marketing, quality assurance and training.

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