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Last Updated:[02-03-2009 04:34:32 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

With the Latest Knowhow, Africa Aims to Explore Opportunities in Rice Production

tradenews The Deputy Director-General of Africa Rice Center (WARDA), Dr. Marco Wopereis claimed during the two-day STRASA meeting that the rice prices which hurled up to $1000 per ton would help the African nations to produce rice economically with increased help through the new project. Stress-tolerant rice for poor farmers in Africa and South Asia (STRASA) is a project commenced a year ago with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

The project lays emphasis on to facilitate the development and delivery of improved rice varieties that are tolerant to five major stresses – drought, submergence, salinity, iron toxicity and low temperature as the sub-Saharan Africa is largely dependent on rain water. Within a short period, the successful development and release of stress-resistant rice is showing great promise with huge increase in rice production in some countries.

The Africa Rice Center (WARDA) is a leading pan-African research organization working to alleviate poverty and improve food security in Africa through research, development and partnership. The organization is chiefly focusing on to achieve rice self-sufficiency through state of the art support of rice breeding and seed distribution programs to increase the output. Close to half of the rice consumption of the continent is met by means of Asian imports.

The current price per ton of rice is pegged at about $400 way below its all-time high of $1000/ton however the African countries are gearing up to address the future issues probably would arise from another price spiral. It must be recalled, rise in food prices last year had sparked off riots and social unrest in many countries not only in Africa but also across the world. In Africa, rice consumption is growing faster than any other food staple and demand for rice has quadrupled in last five years in the region.

During the meet in Ibadan, Nigeria, Wopereis stated that the rice farmers should exploit the opportunities provided by the favourable climatic conditions and high prices of rice. He further added that the association with the Asian majors in regard to technology sharing would significantly help the African farmers in the coming years.

By Jose Roy

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