Cotonou, Benin
Africa’s rice stakeholders root for mechanization

5  July 2011

Africa’s rice stakeholders root for mechanization


Noting that lack of mechanization is seriously undermining the productivity and competitiveness of rice in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), representatives of rice stakeholders in the region met recently to develop a roadmap for sustainable mechanization of the rice sector.

The stakeholders emphasized that small equipment, such as 2-wheel tractors, row seeders, mechanical threshers, small combine harvesters and small mills need to be tested, and where possible manufactured locally.

National governments were urged to consult research organizations when importing machinery to ensure that in addition to being effective and durable, the technology is well-adapted to local rice-growing conditions and can be serviced and repaired locally.

“According to conservative estimates based on recent surveys in 18 countries in SSA, cutting by half the on-farm post-harvest losses through the use of improved technologies would lead to a saving of 0.9 million tons of milled rice,” said Dr. Marco Wopereis, Deputy Director General for Research, Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), which hosted the meeting at its research station in St. Louis, Senegal.

“The amount of rice saved is equivalent to nearly 17% of rice imports into the region and has a real value of USD 410 million in 2011. This can help lift about 2.8 million persons in rice farming households out of poverty,” Dr. Wopereis explained.

Promising technologies for high labor-intensive activities, such as land preparation, seeding, weeding, harvesting, and processing of rice and sustainable approaches for their introduction, testing and out-scaling were presented at the meeting.

The ASI thresher-cleaner, which has been adapted and introduced by AfricaRice in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), national extension services and local manufacturers in several countries of the region, was cited as a successful example. ASI has received high recognition in the region, including the Senegal Presidential Award and praises from the Chad Government.

The participants agreed that the key factors for a sustainable mechanization program include not only appropriate technologies but also sound business principles, local ownership, dealer support, government backing and local training in the use and maintenance of equipment.

Key recommendations targeted to various stakeholders were made. These include the need to:

  • Develop coherent strategies and policies to boost mechanization in rice-based systems

  • Reduce taxes and duties on imported machinery and raw materials

  • Provide access of local manufacturers and end-users to credit

  • Facilitate south-south cooperation and public-private sector collaboration in mechanization

  • Introduce and adapt promising prototypes in partnership with local manufacturers

  • Build local capacity in the use, development and maintenance of equipment

Dr. Joe Rickman, Regional Coordinator for IRRI’s activities in East and Southern Africa, highlighted the need to develop simple business models for small-scale mechanization and to enhance collaboration between Africa and Asia in this field.

“The time is right for mechanization in the rice sector in Africa, but we need to do a much better job in testing imported and locally manufactured equipment and recommending modifications for local conditions,” Dr. Rickman said, referring to the large number of imported agricultural machines that lie abandoned across SSA because of inappropriate design, lack of spare parts or costly maintenance.

In addition to AfricaRice and IRRI, the participants included representatives of national research and extension organizations of seven countries (Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda) as well as government officials, local and international farm equipment manufacturers, local dealers and rural credit providers.

Representatives from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD) and the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) also attended.

The meeting was supported by the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) – a CGIAR Research Program – that includes hundreds of partners across the world. IRRI is the overall leader of GRiSP, while AfricaRice is leading the GRiSP activities in Africa.

Related links

Video : Video collage of the GRiSP mechanization workshop

Photos : Scenes from the GRiSP mechanization workshop

PowerPoint : Presentations from the GRiSP mechanization workshop


The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for sustainable development with the funders of this work. The funders include developing and industrialized country governments, foundations, and international and regional organizations. The work they support is carried out by 15 members of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, in close collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, and the private sector. -



Media contact:
Savitri Mohapatra
+225 22 48 09 10

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About AfricaRice

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 visit:


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.


Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)



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.


AfricaRice Headquarters
01 BP 4029, Abidjan 01, Côte d'Ivoire
T: +225 22 48 09 10; F: +225 22 44 26 29

M’bé Research Station
01 B.P. 2551, Bouaké 01, Côte d'Ivoire
T: +225 22 48 09 20; F: +225 31 63 25 78



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