Focus on African Development (TICAD V)

Putting Rice on the African Dinner Table

Fifty years ago 85% of Africa's population lived in rural communities. Within the next few years more than 50% of the continent's more than 1 billion people will be urban dwellers in the biggest mass movement of people in the region's history.

As they move into cities Africans are changing the entire pattern of their daily lives, including their eating habits.

Rice is not a staple food on the continent, but because it is easier and quicker to prepare than many traditional meals, more and more people are adding it to their diet.

In 2008 the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) began an initiative to double rice production to 28 million tons by 2018, and today 23 countries are participating in the project known as the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD).

The overall project embraces various approaches to boosting output, including the introduction of new hybrids, programs for both lowland and upland production, improving irrigation systems and extension services, pilot projects and training for both farmers and local officials.

In Ghana, a five-year project was launched in 2009 to improve rain-fed lowland rice production to help meet the government's own target of doubling rice production.

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