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 Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora