AfricaRice and Africa Harvest join forces with national partners to boost East Africa’s rice productivity and competitiveness
Project to address rice value chain constraints, strengthen functional linkages and improve capacity of farmers and input dealers, millers and marketers
About 18,000 stakeholders, including rice farmers, seed producers, extension service providers, processors and national research staff in Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar to benefit
At least 40% targets to be women and 20% youth aged 15-35 years
Nairobi, Kenya, 26 August 2019 - With support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), two premier institutes for agricultural development in Africa – the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) and the Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International (Africa Harvest) – are launching a project in partnership with national programs to enhance the performance of the local rice value chains in Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar, based on innovative institutional approaches and knowledge products.
“This important IFAD-funded project comes at an opportune moment, as we have announced this year that our aim is to achieve self-sufficiency in rice by boosting output to 400,000 tonnes by 2022, under our ‘Big Four’ economic agenda,” stated Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, Government of Kenya. “We count on the expertise of AfricaRice, Africa Harvest and our scientists to assist in capacity strengthening and reduction of postharvest losses.”
Titled ‘Strengthening the rice sector in East Africa for improved productivity and competitiveness of domestic rice’ (EARiSS), the 3-year project will adapt appropriate rice technologies and innovations to address emerging rice value chain constraints, strengthen functional linkages among key rice stakeholders using multi-stakeholder innovation platforms (IPs), and improve capacity of farmers and other rice value chain actors, including input dealers, millers and marketers.
About 18,000 stakeholders, including rice farmers, seed producers, extension service providers, processors and national research staff in Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar are expected to benefit directly from this project. At least 40% of this target group is expected to be women, and at least 20% youth aged 15-35 years.
Indirect beneficiaries include other rice value chain actors, such as farm input dealers, equipment fabricators, transporters, micro-finance providers, non-governmental organizations and policymakers. The outputs of the project will be relevant for at least 100,000 rice-farming households in East Africa.
“We are fortunate to work with Africa Harvest and our national partners in Kenya, Uganda and Madagascar on this project, which will help harness our combined knowledge and experience to address challenges along the rice value chain of these three countries,” said Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, AfricaRice Director General. “We take this opportunity to convey our sincere thanks to IFAD for enabling research outputs to contribute directly to targeted development outcomes.”
Rice is one of the key strategic crops for food security and a source of income for rice value chain actors in the project countries. Despite increases in rice production, the local supply however, has not been able to meet the growing demand, driven by changing consumer preferences and rapid urbanization. The rice import bill has therefore risen sharply and is estimated at US$ 500 million per year, in East Africa.
“It is unacceptable that 80% of Kenya’s rice is imported, when we have all the potential to produce it here,” stated Dr Florence Wambugu, Chief Executive Officer of Africa Harvest. “That is why, it is so important that AfricaRice, which is known for its climate-smart technologies, adapted to African conditions, can bring to bear its expertise in boosting the rice sector in the project countries.”
Expressing her optimism about the project’s potential, Dr Wambugu said, “Equipped with knowledge, innovative technologies and requisite skills along the rice value chain, in combination with strong political support and adequate investment in the rice sector, our rice stakeholders can make local rice production internationally competitive.”
In addition to helping bridge the widening rice production-consumption gap, the project is expected to contribute to the improvement of food and nutrition security, sustainable agricultural development, creation of rural employment for women and youth, reduction in the rice import bill and economic development in the project countries.
The project is linked to the national rice development strategies (NRDS) in the three countries and is aligned with IFAD objectives, as it will (a) promote the out scaling of innovative, pro-poor approaches and technologies through the IPs to achieve greater impact; (b) strengthen partners’ institutional capacities; (c) enhance advocacy and policy engagement; and (d) enhance and share generated knowledge for development impact.
It will be implemented in close association with the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the National Irrigation Board (NIB) in Kenya; the National Center for Applied Research on Rural Development (FOFIFA) in Madagascar; and the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) in Uganda.
Key project activities include the following:
Promoting promising varieties and agronomic practices for enhanced productivity and reduced yield gap in the rice hubs;
Promoting appropriate seed production practices and delivery mechanisms;
Enhancing the capacity of rice value chain actors in post-harvest management and marketing of quality rice whilst promoting gender related activities.
“The project activities will be implemented in an interdisciplinary manner through IPs located in rice hubs in the project countries,” said Dr Edgar Twine, AfricaRice Marketing and Rice Value Chain Expert and EARiSS project Coordinator.