News / Africa

Africa Eyes Boosting Rice Crop to Fight Hunger

(File) A woman works at a rice mill in Nigeria. Thirty million tons of rice are consumed on the continent, but the majority of that is imported from Asian countries.
(File) A woman works at a rice mill in Nigeria. Thirty million tons of rice are consumed on the continent, but the majority of that is imported from Asian countries.
Researchers are mapping out ways to increase rice production in Africa in order to combat hunger. That's a prime topic at the third African Rice Congress taking place this week in Cameroon. 

Thirty million tons of rice are consumed in the continent and experts at the meeting say 60 percent of that is imported from Asian countries.

They estimate Africa spends $5 billion on rice imports yearly, yet there are still rice shortages on a continent with more than 850 million hungry and malnourished people, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Africa rice production dropped drastically in some countries after the economic crisis of the 1990s, says Samantana Mark, director general of Cameroon's rice production company, SEMRY.

“With the advent of the economic crisis, states stopped investments in the transformation and marketing of rice," Mark said. "That is why Cameroonians were not visible in the rice markets, and Nigerians came in to buy and process the rice in their countries and supply it right to Sudan.”

Climate change, extreme temperatures and plant disease constitute a major impediment to rice cultivation especially in sub-Saharan African countries. 

But some researchers, like the Nigerian-born Adekoya Madinat with the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, say they have come up with water-saving varieties.

"With this research we try to see how much water exactly is needed for rice production and try to see which genes are actually recruited during the event of droughts," Madinat said. "So these genes can be used to develop drought-resistant varieties that can be planted with minimal water and we still have very good yields and food security."

Marie Noel Njon Njock, a molecular biologist from Cameroon's Institute of Agricultural Research, presented research findings she says could increase rice production if applied.

“Molecular biology has a very big potential because you can know the real diversity since we work at the DNA level," Njock said. "So our goal is really to be able to feed the population using rice based products.”

The Congress participants called for the mechanization of African agriculture, which Cameroonian-born Dorothy Mallah says is a sure way of making rice available whenever it is needed.

“If we mechanize the rice sector only with small small machines, then rice production will triple and we will become rice exporters instead of rice importers,” Mallah said.

Investing in rice production requires huge amounts of money.  FAO's Robert Guei says that should be an immediate priority for African governments seeking to eliminate hunger and poverty.

“African governments have to support small companies," Guei said. "These people have to be encouraged so governments have to come out with good policies whereby these companies are subsidized.  Help them to have credits to banks and loans so that they can produce these varieties of rice and distribute and this is what FAO is doing now, talking to governments to set up policies.”

Experts say that currently, African countries produce about 12 million tons of rice per year.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid