AfricaRice invigorates rice breeding programs in Africa
with support from Republic of Korea
The Rural Development Administration (RDA)
of the Republic of Korea and the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)
have entered into a strategic partnership under the Korea-Africa
Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (KAFACI)
to accelerate the development of a new generation of productive
and stress-tolerant rice varieties to meet the pressing needs of
rice farmers and consumers in Africa.
KAFACI aims to contribute to food security and enhanced economic
growth in Africa through modernized agriculture by drawing on
the experience, knowledge and resources of the Republic of
The partnership will broaden the African rice gene pool with
high yield and quality traits from Korean rice germplasm. It
will also enhance African rice breeding capacity by training
national rice breeders, particularly in the application of
anther culture, which has high potential to increase rice yields
in Africa. For this, facilities for anther-culture work will be
set up at the regional training center of AfricaRice located at
its regional station in Saint Louis, Senegal.
The partnership will support seed multiplication and
dissemination efforts for newly released improved rice
varieties, which will contribute to strengthening national seed
systems. It will also help establish a strong research network
of African and RDA scientists working on rice breeding for
The project will be co-coordinated by a Korean rice breeding
expert put at the disposal of AfricaRice by RDA and an
AfricaRice breeder. It will cover the following 20 African
countries: Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire,
Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya,
Malawi, Mali, Mozambique. Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan,
Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Partnership activities will be carried out in accordance with
the terms and conditions set out in a letter of agreement under
the framework of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) entitled “The
Africa Rice Development Partnership,” which was signed on 19
October 2016 in Jeonju, Republic of Korea.
Signatories to the MoU are Mr Hwang-keun Chung, RDA
Harold Roy-Macauley, AfricaRice Director General; Dr Joseph
De Vries, Head of Agricultural Transformation Program, Alliance
for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
on behalf of Dr Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA; Dr Craig L.
Texas A&M AgriLife Research Director and Dr Edwin C. Price,
Center on Conflict and Development at Texas A&M University (ConDev)
“This is a momentous achievement, which will allow AfricaRice to
invigorate its effort to reach the common objectives of
improving food security and reducing poverty in Africa, through
advances in rice research and training of rice breeders,” stated
The joint initiative comes at an opportune moment as demand for
rice is growing at more than 6% per year in Africa – faster than
for any other food staple, because of changing consumer
preferences and growing urban populations. Rice harvest in
Africa is predicted to reach an all-time high of about 29.7
million tons in 2016, according to the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
However, African farmers mainly grow rice under rainfed
conditions, obtaining yields of around 2 tons per hectare. This
is much lower than average rice yields world-wide at around 4
tons per hectare, with the result that much of the rice consumed
in Africa is imported from Asia. Rice self-sufficiency
objectives are being pursued by many African countries as a
means to achieve food security and reduce the rice import bill.
The Republic of Korea has rich resources of germplasm known as
Tongil-type rice that has a yield potential of 6 to 8 tons per
hectare of milled rice. The high-yielding Tongil variety,
derived from indica-japonica cross, sparked the Green Revolution
in the Republic of Korea, transforming the country from a rice
importer to a self-sufficient producer in the 1970s. “The Tongil-type
rice could be used to develop a new generation of rice varieties
for Africa,” stated Dr Roy-Macauley.
The new RDA-AfricaRice initiative will build on the success of a
joint pilot project that evaluated Korean rice breeding lines at
the AfricaRice regional research station in Saint Louis in
Senegal in 2015/2016. Some of the lines have been nominated for
multi-environment trials through the Africa-wide Rice Breeding
Task Force. Several improved varieties obtained from crosses
between elite Korean and African varieties are currently being
The pilot project conducted two training courses for national
rice breeders over the period of 2015 and 2016, with support
from Korean and AfricaRice scientists. The courses resulted in a
total of 34 scientists from 22 African countries trained in
modern rice breeding methods and techniques.
The countries that benefitted from this training are as follows:
Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of
Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi,
Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan,
Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Over the past two years, several exchange visits by high-level
Korean and AfricaRice delegations have taken place to prepare
the groundwork for the long-term partnership.
“We strongly believe that this landmark initiative will
contribute to boosting the rice sector in Africa and will emerge
as an exemplary model of technical development cooperation for
improving the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers and
consumers,” said Dr Roy-Macauley.
+225 22 48 09 10
AfricaRice is a CGIAR Research Center –
part of a global research partnership for a food-secure future. It is
also an intergovernmental association of African member countries.
The Center was created in 1971 by 11 African countries. Today its
membership comprises 27 countries, covering West, Central, East and
North African regions, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central
African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo,
Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau,
Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of
Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Uganda.
AfricaRice headquarters is based in Côte d’Ivoire. Staff are located in
Côte d’Ivoire and also in AfricaRice Research Stations in Benin,
Liberia, Madagascar, Nigeria, and Senegal. For more information
CGIAR is a global research partnership for a
food-secure future. CGIAR science is dedicated to reducing poverty,
enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources
and ecosystem services. Its research is carried out by 15 CGIAR Centers
in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and
regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia,
development organizations and the private sector.