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Home News Vietnam and Thailand agree to help Africa double rice output

Vietnam and Thailand agree to help Africa double rice output

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Annan seeks support for plan to double African rice output by 2018

TOKYO, June 4 (Kyodo) - Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on Wednesday sought the support of Japan and other rice-producing countries to achieve a goal of doubling rice output in Africa by 2018, saying that sustainable production of the food would help ease hunger and poverty in the continent.

Annan, a native of Ghana who chairs the board of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, told a Tokyo meeting of an international network backing the plan to double rice output that rice consumption in Africa is ''growing faster than that of any other major staple food'' but that the continent ''has been unable to keep up with this demand.''

''The demand for rice in sub-Saharan Africa is increasing at double the rate of population growth. We should make a real effort to produce what we eat, and not export what we produce and import what we eat,'' Annan said. He pointed out that Africa imports nearly half the rice it consumes.

The former top U.N. official said rice prices have more than doubled since the start of a global food crisis last year and the prices have not fallen sufficiently despite the economic downturn. He called for steps to stabilize the balance of supply and demand for the food staple.

AGRA is dedicated to helping African small-scale farmers lift themselves out of poverty and hunger by boosting farm productivity and incomes for the poor while safeguarding the environment.

Annan said smaller and older farmers in Africa ''need better access to improved seeds, fertilizers and options for processing and marketing their harvests.''

''The evidence is clear that when Africa's farmers are given the chance to increase their yields through improved seeds and small amounts of fertilizer, they are eager to take advantage of the opportunity and they can produce remarkable results,'' he said.

During the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama in May last year, Japan pledged to share its agricultural experience with Africa and called for aiming to double rice production in a decade from the level of 14 million tons.

The multi-stakeholder network, known as the ''Coalition for African Rice Development,'' was launched on the sidelines of the TICAD meeting.

The two-day Tokyo meeting from Wednesday was attended by representatives of 14 African nations, Asian rice-producing countries including Thailand, Vietnam and Japan, and international organizations such as the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

At the conference, 12 African nations presented their national rice development strategies.

Annan appreciated the presence of Asian rice producers at the gathering, saying cooperation between Africa and Asia ''will open new possibilities for food security in Africa.''

Sadako Ogata, president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, also welcomed the participation by non-African rice producers, saying it represents ''a broad-based, unique example of South-South cooperation.''

JICA is one of the major organizers that spearheaded the creation of the coalition. JICA and AGRA signed a pact before the start of the conference to strengthen their cooperation to promote rice development in Africa. (Kyodo)

 


Asian rice producers offer support to double African rice output by 2018

TOKYO, June 5 (Kyodo) - Five Southeast Asian rice-producing countries as well as Egypt and Brazil offered their support Thursday for sub-Saharan Africa to achieve a goal of doubling annual rice output in the area by 2018 from the current level of about 14 million tons, officials of Japan's aid agency said.

Major rice producers Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam highlighted their experience of developing the staple food at a Tokyo meeting of an international network, which was set up last year by Japanese and international agencies to help African nations realize the target.

About 140 people, including representatives of 14 African nations, took part in the two-day gathering of the network, known as the ''Coalition for African Rice Development.'' The Japan International Cooperation Agency spearheaded the creation of the coalition.

A JICA official said the conference provided a ''matchmaking'' opportunity for African nations and their supporters to promote cooperation.

Thailand and Indonesia have already dispatched personnel to aid rice production in Sudan and Madagascar, respectively, and Vietnam is interested in assisting rice projects in Mozambique, he said.

African countries generally welcomed the offer by the Asian rice producers, but some said Asian experience cannot directly be applied to Africa due to differences in conditions, the official said.

During the meeting, 12 African countries presented their national rice development strategies. The most ambitious plan among them was to raise rice output ninefold by 2018, according to the official.

Nine other African nations will likely start compiling their strategies around the year-end, he said.

At the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama in May last year, Japan called for aiming to double African rice production in a decade.

The multi-stakeholder coalition was launched on the sidelines of the TICAD meeting.

Although demand for rice in sub-Saharan Africa has been sharply growing, nearly half the rice consumed there is imported because domestically produced rice is generally of low quality and lacks price competitiveness compared with imports from Asian countries, including Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan, the official said. (Kyodo)

 

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