Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
* Report by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)It has been dubbed simply as a "Green Revolution" for Africa. It aims to double rice production on the continent within 10 years, bringing help to some of the world’s poorest people during a period of spiraling global food prices and dwindling stocks.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) along with international institutions and key African partners such as NEPAD, announced the ambitious initiative at the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) in Yokohama on 29 May 2008.
The meeting – following a NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) side event on the progress of CAADP implementation — was the largest gathering of African leaders outside the continent with the leaders of most of Africa’s 53 nations present. The initiative also represented JICA’s biggest agricultural commitment in Africa.
Rice has become an increasingly important staple food in various parts of the continent in recent years, particularly as people migrate to the cities and change their eating habits. The initiative aims to double Africa’s overall continental production from around 14 million tons today to 28 million tons within a decade.
The participants, known collectively as the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), aim to achieve that goal in a variety of ways. A major component of the programme is to cooperate more closely and coordinate existing projects, such as the NEPAD CAADP initiative.
JICA, for instance, has been involved for several years in helping to develop a strain of rice called NERICA which is particularly suited to harsh African conditions. That programme will continue to develop new strains and expand the distribution of seeds to farmers.
Other activities will include the introduction of better farming techniques, increased research and education, better extension facilities, upgrading run-down irrigation systems, expanding cultivated areas, upgrading quality controls and marketing, and assisting women rice producers.
JICA Senior Vice-President Kenzo Oshima told the TICAD audience his organisation had been involved in more than 100 rice projects in Africa in the last 30 years and under the umbrella of the latest initiative, it would become involved in 32 programmes in 15 countries.
The "Green Revolution" announcement was particularly timely. One of the major topics at the TICAD conference was the current global food crisis and the impact the rising prices and dwindling stocks were having, particularly among some of the poorest peoples in the world.
Prof. Keijiro Otsuka, of the Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development (FASID), told delegates that targeting the African rice crop rather than cereals such as maize had been a deliberate choice.
"With rice we can more accurately predict the outcome," he said. "We know what we can and should do with rice. Doubling production will be difficult but it is possible."
Another speaker, Ambassador Olukorede Willoughby, NEPAD Acting Chief Executive, warned that "Africa cannot continue to face the kinds of riots we have seen in West Africa as a result of increased demand and the escalating prices of this commodity."
Dr. Monty Jones, of Sierra Leone, universally referred to as the "father" of NERICA, said : "We need to coordinate and harmonise all the current systems, bring them all together and then continue to innovate".
If the targets of the initiative are "predictable", as Professor Otsuka maintains, rice production has other advantages. Unlike tobacco, for instance, which is simply a cash crop, rice can produce both needed cash from sales and exports, and also feed a continent where 200 million people are permanently malnourished.
Around 70% of Africa’s 900 million people live in rural areas and 90% of those work in agriculture which makes up 25% of the continent’s gross domestic product. However, Africa’s low-yield farms, while slowly increasing output, have not been able to meet the demands of a population expanding by 2.5% annually.
Grain imports, therefore, have been increasing by 3%-4% annually and even then Africa cannot meet the demands of its own population.
The "Green Revolution" initiative will target three main geographical areas of rice production in Africa — rain-fed uplands where the NERICA experiments have been conducted, rain-fed lowlands and irrigated farms. Each has different problems and each needs different solutions.
The lowlands cover some 20 million hectares, or 42% of the rice lands, and offer major potential. For a variety of reasons, including the’ reluctance of farmers to cultivate rice in regions susceptible to disease and difficult climatic conditions, the lowlands have not been fully exploited. The initiative will establish a new model for rice cultivation and the introduction of new varieties of rice.
Yields on the rain-fed uplands is generally low but the NERICA rice has proven to be more resistant to weeds, drought, pests and disease. Under the right conditions, NERICA can produce significantly higher yields and 25% greater protein content. Research programmes will be continued.
Until now efforts to get more farmers to understand and use NERICA have been disappointing so a major drive will be undertaken to distribute the new rice to many more growers and governments.
During the 1970s and 1980s there was significant investment in irrigation projects but many of them fell into disrepair. Rice yields plummeted in these badly maintained irrigation schemes, but in others rice yields could top five tons per hectare, which is comparable to the highest levels in Asia. Source : NEPAD, june 6, 2008
The next NEPAD TV programmes on the SABC Africa channel (DSTV Channel 407) are :
11 June, 8pm-9pm (SA time)
This phone-in discussion will be led by Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong, NEPAD advisor : environment.
The topic will be : Climate change, financing the AU/NEPAD Environment Action Plan and international environmental governance.
The panel will include specialists on the environment. Source : NEPAD, june 6, 2008
The NEPAD Secretariat is pleased to announce the following disbursements from the NEPAD-Spanish Fund for the Empowerment of Women : Women’s Development Foundation Women of Liberia Peace Network Vinya wa Aka Group ONG : Sante et Developpement (SADEV) Reseau des Femmes du Tanganyika (REFETANG) Promocao da Muhler Angolana Na Igreja Catolica (PROMAICA) Coordination des Femmes Entrepreneurs du Mali (CFEMA) Rwandese Association of Ecologists (ARECO-RWANDA NZIZA) Federation of Women Lawyers – Kenya African Women’s Millennium Initiative on Poverty and Human Rights (AWOMI) Centre for African Women Economic Empowerment (CAWEE) Isigodlo Trust – SAWID projects Centre for the Rehabilitation and Education of Abused Women and Children (CREAW) Women for Women Foundation Inc. ONG SRMSR DIMOL Niamey – NIGER, Bloc Operatoire Project. ONG SRMSR DIMOL, Niamey – NIGER, Formation et Sensibilisation Project ONG SRMSR DIMOL, Niamey – NIGER, Plaidoyer Pour la Ratification du Protocole Additional a la CADHP Project Women’s Action for Development (WAD) Education Centre for Women in Democracy (ECWD) Orphan Widow AIDS Campaign Organisation (OWACO) Women’s Rights Awareness Programme Good Samaritan Training Centre African Women’s Development Fund Centre for Land, Economy and Rights of Women (CLEAR) League Africaine Pour la Non-Violence Active (LANOVA) Rede Mulher Women’s Bureau Ministerio da Familia e Promocao da Mulher All beneficiaries are requested to acknowledge receipt of funding.
Once again all organisations with pending documentation are urged to submit the documents as soon as possible.
Kossi Toulassi has been appointed accountant for the Technical Management Team and the other members are expected to be in place shortly.
The NEPAD Secretariat thanks all organisations for their patience, understanding and co-operation. Source : NEPAD, june 6, 2008