Japan eyes doubling sub-Saharan Africa rice output in 2018

TOKYO, Aug. 20 — A Japan-funded agricultural development project will likely reach targets next year aimed at doubling rice output in sub-Saharan Africa. This is thanks to improved varieties and cultivation techniques, according to officials from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

In 2008, Japan hosted the Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) in Yokohama, and pledged to double sub-Saharan rice production to 28 million metric tons in the next 10 years.

The Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), a consultative group of donors and research institutions, was set up and has implemented the project to help reduce food imports and move the continent toward food security.

Rice production in sub-Saharan Africa has increased mainly by expanding cultivation areas, instead of improving rice productivity, the JICA officials noted.

Despite the achievement, the project is still confronted with challenges, including weak yield rates and continuous rising rice imports, as an increase in domestic food production has been unable to keep pace with a rapidly growing population in sub-Saharan Africa.

The CARD will meet later this year to develop a post-2018 action plan.

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