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CARI Background

Rice is the fastest growing food source in Africa. Demand for rice has been growing faster than anywhere else in the world in recent years and far outstripping the sub-region’s population growth. This trend is predicted to continue for the next years due to population increase, urbanization and changes in consumption patterns.

In West Africa local production covers only 60% of current demand and yield growth rates lag far behind population growth rates or even decrease. The competitiveness of locally produced rice is generally low due to poor production, processing and marketing infrastructure, weak market organization and consumer preferences biased towards imported rice varieties. As a result Africa imports more rice than any other region globally.

African governments have realized the importance of the rice subsector to safeguard food security, to save foreign currency and to foster rural economic growth. Several governments are promoting import substitution policies for rice and have earmarked rice for rapid expansion and modernization in their national strategies for food security and rural development.