Thursday, January 28, 2016

Africa needs a Green Revolution in rice, says expert

LOS BAÑOS, Philippines - “Just by improving management practices, the productivity of rice in Africa can be increased by as much as 50%,” said Keijiro Otsuka, an expert in agricultural development in both Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
A Green Revolution is needed in Africa, particularly for rice, which has become very important on the continent. In fact, an African now eats 25 kilograms of rice annually, compared with only 10 kilograms 30 years ago. This was brought about by rice imported from Asia. Imported Asian rice accounts for more than one third of African consumption. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, consumption has been rising faster than production, according to Otsuka, who spoke during the regular Thursday seminar at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

“An African Green Revolution in rice is feasible as the crop is the most promising one for raising food productivity on small farms in SSA because of the high transferability of Asian rice technologies,” he said. 

His study showed that many areas in SSA have attained high yields by adopting Asian-type technologies and improved management practices. “In other words, a Green Revolution in rice has already been taking place in some SSA locations.”

Otsuka expressed his appreciation of IRRI’s work in training and educating young African scientists over the years. For him, training programs are vital in introducing improved technology and management practices for rice in Africa. “A Green Revolution in rice is possible if sufficient resources are allocated to capacity building for effective extension systems,” he concluded.

Otsuka is professor of development economics at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, Japan, and a former chair of IRRI's board of trustees (2004-07). His presentation was based on In Pursuit of an African Green Revolution, a book he edited with Donald F. Larson, senior economist at the World Bank. 

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