In recognition of the sizeable opportunity represented by strengthening the domestic rice sector for job creation, improvement of smallholder incomes, food security, and reduced import dependence, Grow Africa has been working to support strong, well-functioning national rice value chain platforms with effective private sector participation in West Africa. Alongside this work, Grow Africa has been mobilizing investment into the region’s rice sector, totaling US$2 billion in investment commitments at the end of 2016.
There are a wide variety of factors that stifle rice production across West Africa, with each country experiencing a different set of circumstances. Nevertheless, there are some common issues that impede the growth of the domestic rice sector. These include:
- Weak linkages between value chain actors
- Inadequate irrigation
- Low levels of mechanization
- Low yields
- Lack of milling capacity
- Unreliable power access
- Limited access to finance
- Perceived higher quality of imported rice
- Fragmented supply, dominated by smallholders
Weak levels of coordination and communication between the different elements of the rice value chain pose a significant obstacle to strengthening the domestic rice sector. Many of the issues faced by the rice sector are also deep-rooted and require a strong, concerted value chain-wide effort to address and advocate for effectively. Further, attracting much-needed finance to the rice sector requires a strong, well-aligned value chain.
To overcome these challenges, Grow Africa is looking to undertaking an in-depth business case study for the establishment of regional rice value chain in West Africa, with specific focus on Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Niger and Senegal
Grow Africa has also fostered regional collaboration between national level bodies to help improve intra-regional rice trade, such as a partnership between Africa Rice, the John A. Kufour Foundation, and national bodies from Senegal (APIX), Burkina Faso (Bagré Pôle), and Côte d’Ivoire.
Grow Africa leverages strategic partnerships across West Africa to strengthen existing efforts, knowledge, and expertise in the rice sector. At the regional level, Grow Africa has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the JAK Foundation, CARI, and the German Development Agency (GiZ) to support the development of a stronger rice sector in West Africa through improved coordination of efforts. This collaboration will initially focus on Ghana, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria. Collaborative approaches are being developed with Africa Rice and the Africa Rice Advocacy Platform (ARAP).
Through all its work in this sector, Grow Africa includes and consults regularly with national government representatives and ECOWAS representatives at the regional level, to ensure strong public sector alignment and participation.