Rice is one of the most important staples in West Africa, but average rice yields in Sub-Saharan Africa are the lowest in the world. Reasons include the lack of technical know-how, poor quality seed, inadequate fertilizer, and crop protection use and practices, poor infrastructure, low levels of mechanization, poor road networks, lack of coordination and finance for players along the value chain, and poorly implemented government policy. All these challenges contribute to low productivity and quality and keep rice-producing smallholders in poverty.
Over several decades, China has developed strong capabilities along the rice agricultural value chain, which can be transferred and adapted to the needs of African countries, particularly for the use and benefit of Africa’s smallholder farmers. The agricultural backgrounds of China and African countries are similar in that they both rely on smallholder farmers. This project aims to enhance our understanding of African countries' needs and will explore translating China’s own successful value chain technologies and practices into approaches that can be adapted by African countries.
The project is implemented in Nigeria and Mali, in partnership with local research organizations, to leverage new knowledge, investments, and public-private partnerships that will advance rice productivity, and improve quality, processing, and distribution. It will benefit smallholders and others in low-resource communities to have access to improved inputs and modern technologies for post-harvest management. The project will also draw from and advance new knowledge on climate-smart practices and technologies used in rice production, such as measures to reduce methane emissions in rice production, identifying more nutritious rice varieties designed to adapt to changing climatic conditions, and identifying more optimal crop rotations including rice.
More specifically, the project aims for three primary outcomes:
1. Better understanding and deeper insights into gaps, challenges, needs, and opportunities across the rice value chain in Nigeria and Mali;
2. Raised awareness among public and private stakeholders of issues and solutions of various stages of the rice value chains and opportunities for the rice sector benefiting smallholders;
3. Agreed rice value chain strategies for public and private institutions to develop technologies, support technology transfer, and investment to build a stronger, inclusive, and more effective rice value chain to benefit smallholder farmers in Nigeria and Mali countries.