By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Africa needs to adopt hybrid technology to boost Africa’s rice productivity to deliver on its economic goals including job creation for the youth and women to improve people’s standards of living, a meeting was told.
It was revealed that hybrid rice technologies offer significant yield gains that could build viable agri-businesses including investment in rice production by seed companies to enhance sustainable rice seed system for the benefit of African farmers.
The remarks were made by Dr. Kayode Sanni, the Rice Project Manager at AATF during the fifth African Conference of Science Journalists, organised by the Media for Environment, Science, Health, and Agriculture (MESHA) in May 2022.
Dr. Sanni noted that Africa can be self-sufficient in rice production by increasing productivity, planting climate resilient varieties, improving crop management, and market linkage along rice value chain.
“The continent’s bill for importing rice only is currently estimated to stand at over $ 6 billion which is about 40 per cent of the continent’s rice requirements.
“Rice consumption in Africa is rising at about eight per cent against a yield increase of less than 6 per cent per year creating a deficit of over 13 million metric tonnes,” he said.
He added that hybrid rice technology offers solution to enhance farmers’ yields and production. The technology, he observed, is about African farmers, helping them to increase rice production with better grain quality to improve their livelihood.
Dr. Sanni stated that some challenges hampering hybrid rice technology in Africa include slow adoption by rice farmers caused by low awareness on the benefits of the technology, slow variety release process in some countries, the higher cost of hybrid seed production, low capacity on hybrid rice and low level of private sector’s investment in rice seed production.
He highlighted ongoing consolidated efforts towards promotion of hybrid rice in Africa by different partners.
This effort has given birth to a public private alliance for the sustainable development, testing, production, promotion and commercialization of hybrid rice and creating market linkages for rice trade in Africa called the Alliance for Hybrid Rice in Africa (AHyRA) based in AATF.
“Through these efforts, over 15 different high yielding rice hybrids have been released in at least seven countries including Kenya and Tanzania, with yields above 10tonnes per hectare,” he stated, adding that in 10 years, it is expected that 3.3M hectares of rice will be grown in Eastern Africa.
“We project that 40 per cent or 1.4 million hectares will be available for hybrids with revenue opportunities for early adopters projected to range between $100 million to $125 million,” he said.
The projection will not only boost the economies of African countries but also contribute to food security among the bourgeoning Africa population and create employments.