October 10, 2017
Some 30 agricultural specialists from Africa graduated recently from training programs on quality rice seed production and extension to support food and livelihood security in countries in Africa.
The training programs were under the 3-year development cooperation (2016-2019) of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
"JICA wants to help create opportunities for partner countries like the Philippines to also share with other countries the knowledge and expertise they learned from Japan. Under this model of cooperation, together we can contribute to poverty alleviation and food security," said JICA Senior Representative Yuko Tanaka.
IRRI and PhilRice were recipients of JICA's development assistance, with the latter receiving a Japanese grant aid in the 1980s to upgrade its facilities and research laboratories with Japanese scientists.
The activity also complements the ongoing rice value chain initiatives of different members of the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD). IRRI and PHILRICE and other global partners are actively supporting CARD's agenda of helping double rice production in Africa by 2018.
IRRI implemented the quality seed production course to equip those in the seed production chain with knowledge and skills on standard procedures and modern techniques used in the seed value chain. This includes variety development and release, quality assurance, and seed processing.
The 8-week course at PhilRice has enhanced the participants' knowledge and skills in rice production with emphasis on the production of quality rice seeds through hands-on activities and laboratory and field exercises. They were likewise exposed to the different extension methods that can be applied in the promotion and use of quality rice seeds among farmers.
The participants in this course were agriculture extension workers from Africa, Afghanistan, and the Philippines.
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) 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.
African participants evaluate seed disease specimens as part of their seed health training
Trainees from Cameroon and Madagascar participate in a panicle emasculation exercise, an important activity in rice breeding