Product line 6.4. Effective systems for large-scale adoption of rice technologies in Africa
Recent years have been characterized by a sharp decline in global rice stocks and widely fluctuating rice prices. Africa’s dependence on imports is clearly not sustainable. Commitment at the national and regional level and from the donors’ side is mounting to boost Africa’s rice sector and invest in production, processing, storage, and distribution, and in marketing infrastructure.
Research can play an essential catalyzing role in the development of the rice sector in Africa but, in the past, links between research and development efforts have been suboptimal at best. Moreover, with few exceptions (most notably Egypt), the research and extension capacity in Africa is extremely weak. Much better coordination between research and development efforts and commitment at national and regional levels to hire, train, and retain new staff in rice reseach and extension will be needed. Research and extension efforts also need to acknowledge the importance of women in rice farming and rice value chain development.
There is therefore a strong need for a pro-active role by GRiSP partners to ensure that research products reach many more prospective users in Africa than through research networks alone. It will also be crucial to ensure that products reduce the burden of rice farming on women and make it an attractive occupation for young people.
The Africa Rice Center as an association of 24 member countries has had since its inception as the West Africa Rice Development Association a mandate to actively support the growth of the rice sector in Africa. The Center has vast experience in this domain and it created a special unit of extension agronomists in 2008 (RiceTIME, where TIME stands for training, information management, and extension linkages) to more effectively respond to the rice crisis, focusing entirely on this product line. This unit will be strengthened to include value chain development and training expertise via a partnership with ICRA (International Center for development-oriented Research in Agriculture). Small-scale mechanization of rice production will be among the key focus areas in PL 6.4.
Through this product line, GRiSP partners in Africa will link up with development partners and investment projects to ensure large-scale adoption of rice technologies and principles in Africa. A key partner will be the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), regrouping major rice research and extension institutions and donors (African Development Bank, AfricaRice, AGRA, FARA, FAO, International Fund for Agricultural Development, IRRI, JICA, JIRCAS, NEPAD, World Bank), which aims to double rice production between 2008 and 2018 in sub-Saharan Africa. Links will also be sought with major NGOs active in Africa, such as Africa Harvest Foundation, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA).
Activities to support the delivery of technologies and principles of rice value-chain development will include the following:
All these activities will be implemented with partners, fully exploiting knowledge available at the NARES level in Africa to ensure easy out-scaling in all of AfricaRice’s 24 member states and beyond.
6.4.1 New models for seed multiplication and targeted delivery systems
6.4.2 New platforms for delivering agronomic, postharvest, and processing innovations
6.4.3 New models for jointly building extension capacity
Key partners involved in this product line will include grass-roots-level partners from national extension systems and NGOs, such as CRS, to stimulate farmer adoption and adaptation of agronomic, postharvest, and processing innovations and public-private partnerships for delivery of rice technologies and business models for, for example, seed or agricultural machinery suited to farmer conditions. Large investment projects will catalyze enhanced diffusion of rice knowledge and technologies through a variety of means, including capacity development and the use of ICT tools from product line 6.1.
Ex ante impact analyses and technology targeting will guide out-scaling of rice knowledge and technologies from GRiSP research hubs to a much larger number of beneficiaries. Prototype technologies and rice knowledge (derived from GRiSP research or other sources) will be further tested and fine-tuned to local settings by applied research partners as needed in innovation hubs (“rice knowledge centers”) covering the entire rice value chain. Ready-to-go technologies and knowledge will be out-scaled through development partners, such as investment projects (e.g., of the African Development Bank, and IFAD) and major NGOs such as CRS or BRAC, promoting large-scale adoption of agronomic, postharvest, and processing innovations. The latter will provide valuable feedback to research on the performance of the research products and local adaptations made. A special effort will be made to support the development of seed multiplication and delivery systems, linking public- and private-sector partners and civil society partners. This theme will maintain strong linkages to product development under themes 2, 3, and 4 and with research networks such as the Inland Valley Consortium and the task force mechanism, most notably the Africa Rice Breeding Task Force. Impact pathway monitoring and evaluation will be through theme 5.
Financial support will come from major development partners, such as the African Development Bank through a second phase of the African Rice Initiative (ARI), from IFAD through grants to develop links with investment projects in both West and Central Africa and East and Southern Africa, and from regional economic communities, such as ECOWAS. Support to rebuild Liberia’s rice research and extension capacity is expected from the World Bank and USAID. Project funds are sought to develop rice extension capacity across the continent through collaboration with strong NARES partners, such as Egypt, Ghana, and Mali. Support from the Syngenta Foundation will be targeted at postharvest and processing innovations to boost the competitiveness of locally produced rice.