Lee Adoboe ACCRA (Xinhua) --
The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) and its global partners are working
to support Africa’s Rice Initiative, seeking to bridge
the gap in rice supply, Bukar Tijani, FAO Regional
Representative for Africa, said here on Thursday.
He noted that Africans’ taste was shifting fast from
traditional staples to rice, causing an increase in the
import bill for the commodity.
"The African Development Bank is putting import bills
in excess of 35 billion dollars on a yearly basis,"
Tijani pointed out while opening a two-day Regional
Technical Workshop for 10 counties benefiting from
Venezuela’s support for the Africa Rice Initiative.
He said, in the face of global dwindling economies,
there was the need to look inward to see how best
African countries could save themselves and their
partners the high import bills.
Tijani stressed: "It is not just for the food
security and the nutrition aspect but also for the
businesses that it could bring and the savings that we
could get if we put sustainable systems in Africa;
savings in terms of our import bills."
The Rice Initiative supported by Venezuela seeks to
assist smallholder farmers increase their yield and make
their finishing competitive enough for local consumers.
National Coordinators from Benin, Cameroon, Cote
d’Ivoire, Guinea (Conakry), Kenya, Mali, Nigeria,
Senegal, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda are
attending the workshop.
Out of the 47 countries under its purview in
Sub-Saharan Africa, the FAO under the Coalition for
Africa Rice Development (CARD) supports 23 countries,
including Ghana in their rice development strategies.
Peter Annadumba, Director for South-South
Cooperation, said the FAO was also in a big partnership
with China in helping African countries to increase rice
production to ensure food security.
"FAO also has a big partnership with China and
currently under the Rice Initiative, China is supporting
Madagascar in terms of rice production, they are going
to be supporting Cape Verde also in rice production.
"There are other Chinese programs that FAO is
partnering with where we know that in Cameroon and in
Tanzania, China has set up these agriculture
demonstration centers for rice production where we are
doing rice breeding over there.
"This is solely funded by China.
"As a result of these initiatives, rice production in
the last two years has doubled," Annadumba added.