May 17, 2017
A group of African farmers graduated recently from a training extended by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) as part of development cooperation to boost food security in member countries of the Coalition of African Rice Development (CARD).
JICA, IRRI, and PhilRice are training researchers and extension workers in Africa from 2016 until 2019 under an ongoing program Extension Capacity Development for Rice Food Security in Africa.
"The participants are extension workers who are expected to boost the rice seed value chain in CARD-member countries," said IRRI Project Manager Jason Beebout.
CARD, a consultative group of donors, and research organizations work with African producing countries to double rice production in Africa from 14 million tons per year to 28 million tons per year in 2018.
Nineteen participants from Africa were trained in the Philippines in this training program through hands-on experience in land and seedling preparation, harvesting, post-harvesting practices, and quality seed management.
"We have been sharing Japanese know-how with countries like Africa to help boost their rice production and alleviate poverty. Using the South-South cooperation model, Japan encourages countries like the Philippines who also benefited from Japan's capacity building support to transfer their knowledge and skills to other regions," said Yuko Tanaka, JICA Senior Representative.
Sub-Saharan Africa has suffered from increasing rice demand since the 1990s. Improving food security in the region became an international priority to boost rural development and alleviate poverty in the region under so-called CARD initiative.
Data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also showed that sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world at 23.2% or one in every four people making agriculture productivity an urgent concern.
PhilRice is also sharing their rice development initiatives through said training program. The agency developed a training module involving Filipino extension workers so that the training will not only benefit African participants but also Filipino farmers.
Meanwhile, a grant aid from JICA in the 1980s helped upgrade PhilRice facilities and research laboratories while Japanese scientists continue to share knowledge with IRRI and PhilRice scientists until today.
Farmers in Nueva Ecija share quality seeds production practices with a group of extension workers from Africa. The knowledge sharing activity is part of ongoing development cooperation among JICA, IRRI, and PhilRice supporting food security in less developed countries like Africa (Photo from PhilRice)
An African trainee operates a rice mechanical transplanter for the first time as part of the training session on establishment of rice seedlings at the PhilRice Future Rice farm in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija. (Photo from PhilRice)