The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has launched the rice regional offensive initiative set to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production for all member states by 2025.
Principal Programme Officer and head, ECOWAS Agriculture Division, Ernest Aubee, says the regional body in partnership with Competitive Africa Rice Initiative (CARI) in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania has been improving rice production in Africa, and now wishes to enhance the process.
“We are member of steering committee for CARI for the whole of Africa and also a very active member in Nigeria Rice Advocacy Platform, helping to support rice cultivation in all rice production states.”
“This programme will basically look at how the region can increase its productions so as to meet consumption needs and reduce import. It will also create job opportunities for our own farmers especially youths and women. It will also improve the value chain so that it could be of high quality and nutritionally suitable for us as ECOWAS citizens to consume.”
“It will also bolster a regional public-private partnership which makes self-sufficiency in rice and economic prosperity a reality in West Africa.” Aubee says
At the invitation of the ECOWAS Commission in 2014, the idea for the self-sufficiency in rice production was birthed.
“ECOWAS countries imported around nine million tonnes of milled rice in 2014, representing a cost of 4 billion Euros. To avoid risks of civil unrest and the scenarios of increased global food prices, there is an urgent need to increase rice production, processing, value-addition, and marketing in West Africa to achieve self-sufficiency.”
“Currently, the region depends on imports from Asia to fulfill about half of its consumption needs. ECOWAS has initiated a regional offensive to reach rice self-sufficiency by 2025.”
The offensive aims to acquire an annual average production increase estimated to be twice that of consumption in order to achieve the self-sufficiency goal by 2025. This will place exportation over importation and will cover the cost of imports if achieved.