By Ochieng’ Ogodo
[NAIROBI] Paddy rice production growth rate shot up from 3.2 per cent per year before the 2000–2007 rice crisis to 8.4 per cent per year after the rice crisis 2007–2012 in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) according to an analysis by Benin based Africa Rice Center .
The analysis also showed that rice yield in SSA jumped by about 30 per cent from 2007 on average to 2012 and that it is increasing at a faster rate than the global average.
“This is very encouraging news,” says AfricaRice Director General, Dr Papa Seck, who adds that “The surge in production and yield is a result of key investments made by farmers, governments, the private sector, the research community and donors to develop Africa’s rice sector.”
Seck says in après release that it is crucial to maintain this trend, since rice consumption continues to increase in SSA at an annual rate of 5 per cent.
High rice prices in late 2007 and 2008 sparked food riots in several African cities. Due to the “rice crisis,” African governments, assisted by the international donor community, undertook ambitious programmes to boost rice production capacity.
AfricaRice analysed trends in rice production across the African continent, placing particular emphasis on the periods before and after the 2007/2008 rice crisis to establish the domestic production responses to these measures.
Data were retrieved from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), accessed 7 February 2013).
“We were pleased to learn that paddy rice production in SSA increased by 2.8 million tonnes from 2000 to 2007, and then accelerated, increasing by 4.7 million tonnes in the period 2007–2012,” says AfricaRice Deputy Director General, Dr. Marco Wopereis.
“But what’s more important, the analysis revealed that average rice yield in SSA increased by about 11 kg per ha per year from 1961 to 2007 and by a spectacular 108 kg per ha per year from 2007 to 2012, despite drought and floods in several African countries in 2011 and 2012.”
According to Wopereis such growth rates are comparable with cereal yield growth rates after the Second World War in the UK and the USA.
Global rice yield– driven by the Green Revolution in Asia – increased by 52 kg per ha per year over the period 1960–2010.
“Currently, 71 per cent of the increase in paddy rice production in SSA can be explained by yield increase and 29 per cent by area expansion.
Before the rice crisis, only 24 per cent of production increase could be attributed to increases in yield and 76 per cent to increases in harvested area,” Wopereis adds.
“This is evidence of increased use of technological innovation, such as improved varieties and improved crop management in general.”
Ochieng’ Ogodo is a Nairobi based journalist whose works have been published in various parts of the world including Africa, the US and Europe. He is the English-speaking Africa and Middle East region winner for the 2008 Reuters-IUCN Media Awards for Excellence in Environmental Reporting. He is the chairman of the Kenya Environment and Science Journalists Association. He can be reached at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com