The ECOWAS Rice Offensive
Collaboration and partnership for working towards rice self-sufficiency in West Africa
Low yields, weak processing and poor value chain linkages characterize the rice value chain in Africa. The above are obstacles that need to be overcome, to lessen import dependency and to support multiple African countries in becoming self-sufficient. Currently, rice yield growth does not meet the domestic demand needs of growing populations in Africa, but only meets about 60% of domestic demand.
“Nigeria imports rice worth 5 million US$ per day.” (Hon. Chief Audu Ogbeh, former Minister of the Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (FMARD) of Nigeria)
It is not enough to link farmers to markets that work towards food security, by only implementing single delimited continuous projects. Instead, holistic value chain approaches are required, which consider multidimensional perspectives within food systems (improving nutrition and livelihoods while sustainably managing natural resources). These are to be scaled up collectively, to benefit the broader population. While national and regional investments in infrastructure are needed, a regional approach to coordination and collaboration, as well as good governance at all levels, is key to ensuring food security. To achieve this, real transformation is required, as well as major shifts and rethinking within value chains. Therefore, a multi-actor approach with the involvement of various different stakeholders groups, like CARI, the Multi-Actor Partnership MAP4Rice and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is essential to bring together different expertise and resources.
The ECOWAS region has high rice self-sufficiency variance and is highly dependant on imports from Asia. The above has led to the launch of the ECOWAS Rice Offensive:
The ‘Rice Offensive’ was launched in 2015 and aimed to create a sustainable and sustained revival of rice cultivation in West Africa, while supporting the National Rice Development Strategies (NRDS) of Member States, to achieve rice self-sufficiency by 2025 in West Africa. Its objectives contribute to the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP) by:
The ‘Rice Offensive’ is planned as a 10-year programme with the target to achieve a 5.6% annual rate of increase in rice production and exceed an anticipated 4.4% annual rate of increase in consumption. Further, four areas of intervention were identified to address the main challenges facing the regional rice economy.
In a nutshell, the aim is to reduce imports to zero by 2025, by expanding the four areas of intervention. In order to achieve this main goal, the increased demand needs to be met by local and/or regional production. Therefore, the increase in rice production and yield, the promotion of regional local rice markets and the improvement of the (public) rice environment and policy, are going to be continuously strengthened by ECOWAS and its Member States in the following years leading up to 2025.