The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has urged all African countries to formulate right policies geared at boosting rice production.
Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative of FAO, Bukar Tijani, gave the charge during his speech at a high-level ministerial conference on rice in Dakar, Senegal.
He said FAO would continue to support regional and national efforts to boost rice production along the value-chain of the African rice transformation agenda.
Tijani, a former Nigerian Minister of State for Agriculture and Water Resources, who noted that rice was still being heavily imported emphasised the need for more investment by African governments in the rice sector.
According to him, “Data show that in 2015 alone, African countries imported about 36 per cent of their domestic rice requirements, amounting to over $4 billion.”
“Projection also forecast that by 2020, the amount would reach $4.8 billion annually, and this is unacceptable,’’ he added
He explained that this would indeed help sustain the momentum towards the attainment of rice self-sufficiency and the creation of gainful employment for the youth and women along the entire rice value chain.
Tijani said that FAO had collaborated with various organisations to support the African Union Commission and Regional Economic Communities in order to boost productivity, strengthen rice value chains, and support improved coordination of regional markets.
He said some organisations, which include AfricaRice, African Development Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Coalition for African Rice Development and International Rice Research Institute would promote and disseminate the best practices on rice to other countries.
Tijani stressed that self-sufficiency in rice could only be achieved through sustaining a higher rate of production and productivity along the rice value-chain.