Representatives from nine African countries call for increased investment in rice milling
The critical role and investment needs of rice milling to accelerate rural transformation in Africa were highlighted during a workshop on ‘Leveraging small and medium rice millers for rural transformation and investment in the rice sector in Africa,’ that was organized jointly by FAO, AfricaRice and the Rice Council of Tanzania, 28-30 May 2019, in Dar-es-Salam, Tanzania.
More than 45 participants representing public and private sectors from nine countries (Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda), CARD, JICA, FAO, AfricaRice and IRRI participated.
The workshop benefited from the analysis of pilot surveys conducted to address the knowledge gap in the middle segment of the rice value chain in three selected countries (Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania) as part of a project through FAO’s Government Cooperative Program (GCP) with support from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). The output of the project is intended to provide guidance for public sector policy making and private sector investment to rice value chains in Africa.
Since the 2008 food crisis there has been growing investment in rice crop production in sub-Saharan Africa. The increased focus on agriculture production alone however will not deliver on food security and nutrition objectives, nor will it produce the results required for rural communities to move out of poverty. In many developing countries, agri-food industries consisting of mostly micro, small, and medium food processors, have been a key catalyst in making the transition from agriculture-based systems to diversified economies possible.
The workshop underlined the vital role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in providing rural employment and market linkages for smallholders. It also highlighted that lack of investment in the middle segment of the rice value chain, characterized by post-farm activities such as transport, storage and processing, has broad rural development implications.
Key findings and recommendations from the pilot surveys were shared among the participants. Discussions covered actions, policies, mechanisms and investment frameworks needed to upgrade the role of milling segment in linking smallholders to rice value chains in Africa. Workplans per country for private-public consortium for improving private sector investment (including domestic and foreign) in rice milling segment were developed.