The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has disclosed that the region requires about $43.5m to achieve uniform self-sufficiency in rice production in the region by 2025.
Currently, total domestic production in the region covers only 60 per cent of the population, and with the three per cent consumption growth rate yearly, it is estimated that demand for rice in the region would be about 24 million metric tonnes by 2025.
To achieve self-sufficiency in rice production in West Africa, the ECOWAS Commission and partners had announced a new Regional Action Plan to implement its rice policy, commonly known as the “Rice Offensive.”
The goal set by the “Regional Rice Offensive” of ECOWAS member states is to produce 24 million tonnes of milled rice, projected to be consumed in the region, by 2025. The entire programme was estimated to gulp $500m. However, about $43.5m would be required to implement strategic action, as highlighted in the action plan.
ECOWAS Commissioner of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Sekou Sangare, at a press conference in Abuja, disclosed that the Economic Community of West Africa Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP) donor roundtable would follow to mobilise required resources to implement the action plan.
According to him, producing enough rice to feed the region would require concerted effort and an effectively coordinated synergy of actions from all rice stakeholders in the region, to achieve the desired outcome.
While acknowledging efforts countries like Nigeria and others are making in attaining self-sufficiency in rice production, he said the aim was to ensure the attainment of self-sufficiency by all countries in the region by 2025. He, however, stressed the need for knowledge sharing among members.
Director of Agriculture and Rural Development at the ECOWAS Commission, Alain Traore, lamented that “West Africa currently depends on imports to meet expanding demand. Not only does this deplete the scarce foreign reserves of countries, but it also undermines indigenous capabilities in the production of rice and its value chain.”
He said rice yield growth rate of 1.03 per cent per annum does not match the population growth rate of 2.73 per cent. The deficit in the rice supply chain has been met through massive imports from primarily Asian countries.
Head of Agriculture Division of ECOWAS, Mr. Ernest Aubee, said if member states could grow rice and eat what they grow, there would be no need to spend millions of dollars yearly on the importation of rice from Asia.
“And the quality of some of these imported rice is not better than what we produce in West Africa. So, we should encourage consumption of what we produce…”