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 Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid