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RICE RESEARCH

Africa to expand rice production area by half to become global leader

Dr Robert S
Zeigler, IRRI

etween 2014 and 2031, Africa will expand its rice production area by almost 50 percent
to become a global leader, according to analysis on the global rice production and
demand according to IHS Inc the leading global source of critical information and
insight.
IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York
Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, IHS employs approximately
8000 people in 31 countries around the world.
Key findings of new IHS analysis:
1) Africas rapid expansion of areas for rice production will be the fastest globally in percentage
terms
2) Asian demand, mainly from China, is driving a majority of the growth in rice consumption
during 2014/15
3) However, Africas rice import demand is driving much of the worlds long-term import growth
4) With a lower Indian rice production estimate due to issues relating to a later monsoon, India is
forecast to lose its spot as top exporter in 2014/15 to Thailand

Africa out-paces the rest

Africas rapid expansion of areas for rice production will be the fastest globally, in percentage
terms. Across sub-Saharan Africa, the development of the agriculture sector is viewed by many
countries as a way to: Diversify their economies away from excessive dependence on the mining
sub-sector; increase employment prospects and enhance poverty reduction.
Cote dIvoire plans to spend US$4 billion on agriculture development in order to improve crop
yields and, in four years, become a rice exporter, said Karanta Kalley, chief economist for Africa
at IHS.

The Government
of Burundi and IRRI
share the same
vision: to provide
sustainable methods
of growing rice
to improve the
well-being of rice
producers and
consumers, to reduce
poverty and preserve
the environment

The Ebola question mark

However, economic development, especially in West Africa, has a question mark hanging over it.
Right now, the question on everyones mind is what the impact of Ebola will be on the economic
growth of sub-Saharan Africa, Kalley said.
IHS expects real gross domestic product (GDP) growth to be curbed significantly for 2014 in
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia as a result of the ongoing Ebola outbreak.
The IHS real GDP growth rate forecasts have been cut between one-half and nine-tenths of
previous forecasts, with Sierra Leones economy projected to have the highest rate of growth at 3.1
percent followed Guinea at 2.0 percent. IHS foresees only a marginal real economic growth rate of
0.8 percent for Liberias economy.
The spread of Ebola is still a concern for Nigeria, the regions economic and population giant.
Public awareness and facilities in Lagos are better than in the Sierra Leone-Guinea-Liberia
triangle, so the chances are fairly good that Nigeria can restrict its outbreak, Kalley said.
Although agriculture has dropped from 35 percent of the Nigerian economy to 22 percent due to
the recent data criteria change, prospects for Nigerias real economic growth for the rest of 2014 are
bright.
Asian demand drives global rice
Table 1: Top global rice exporters (in thousand tonnes)
growth in 2014/15; Africa drives
2013/14
2014/15
long-term growth
World rice demand for 2014/15 is
Thailand
9000
10,041
forecast
to rise to 478 million tonnes,
India
10,000
8388
a 4.4-million-tonne increase from the
Vietnam
6500
6614
previous year. For 2015/16, world rice
Pakistan
3900
4055
demand is expected to increase by 4.5
United States
3011
3462
million tonnes, to 483 million tonnes.
Asian demand, mainly from China,

80 | Milling and Grain

is driving a majority of the growth in


rice consumption during 2014/15,
said IHS senior economist Brandon
Kliethermes.
However, Africas rice import
demand is driving much of the worlds
long-term import growth.
World rice yields in 2014/15 are
expected to soften year over year to
2.96 tonnes per hectare, but world
production is projected to increase by
a little over one million metric tons.
With a lower Indian rice production
estimate due to issues relating to a
later monsoon, India is forecast to lose
its spot as top exporter in 2014/15.
Thailand is forecast to regain its
spot as top exporter, Kliethermes
said. With the military government in
Thailand aggressively trying to find a
solution to their large rice inventory,
Thai rice exports are expected to
increase.
Longer term, Thailand and India will
battle for the top exporter position, with both exporting more than
12 million metric tons per year.

Burundi rice development hub

Burundi has turned its rice research capacity up a notch


to improve food security in Eastern and Southern Africa by
establishing a regional rice research and development hub with
the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
In his speech at the official opening of the new Robert S.
Zeigler building that will house IRRIs Eastern and Southern
Africa Regional Office, First Vice-President of Burundi, His
Excellency Bernard Busokoza stated that the government strongly
supports further collaboration between IRRI and Burundi to
improve the regions rice production and support the fight against
food insecurity.

Poverty reduction

Mr Busokoza said that the Government of Burundi and IRRI


share the same vision: to provide sustainable methods of growing
rice to improve the well-being of rice producers and consumers,
to reduce poverty and preserve the environment.
The regional office focuses on developing and testing new rice
varieties matched to the different rice production ecologies across
Eastern and Southern Africa.
To support IRRIs activities, Mr Busokoza also announced that
the government had granted IRRI use of a 10ha plot of land at
Gihanga for its rice research.
IRRIs objective in Burundi is to enhance the national capability
in research on rice and rice-based systems in the country.
IRRI first started working in Burundi in 2008 when a
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the country
and IRRI was signed. The beginnings of this agreement were
first born when current IRRI Liaison Scientist and Coordinator
for Burundi, Joseph Bigirimana, attended the Rice Research to
Production Training Course at IRRI in 2006 where he met with
IRRI management.

By October 2013, key government, IRRI and Africa Rice


officials gathered for the inauguration of the regional, as part of
the IRRI Board of Trustees meeting in Bujumbura, Burundi. The
new building was named after IRRIs current director general, Dr
Robert S. Zeigler.
Dr Zeigler was recognised for his many years of work in
development agriculture as a scientist and research leader in
Africa, Latin America, Asia and the United States.
Im very optimistic that this regional hub will substantially
contribute to the development of the rice sector in Eastern and
Southern Africa, and build our collaboration with our partners in
Burundi and the greater region, Dr Zeigler added.
Interim director general of Africa Rice Dr Adama Traor also
attended and highlighted the importance of Asia-Africa knowledge
exchange that has been made possible by the CGIAR Research
Program on Rice, known as the Global Rice Science Partnership.
IRRIs deputy director general for research Dr Achim
Dobermann highlighted areas where IRRI can contribute to
rice research and development with the substantial support of
stakeholders.
It is our vision for Burundi to become a leading regional hub
for excellent, high yielding, rice varieties that also have good
grain quality, he said.
IRRI and the Burundian government started collaborating in
2006 through the initiatives of Dr Joseph Bigirimana, who is now
the IRRI Regional Coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa.
The first joint project with CARE Burundi was established in
2010, with support from the Howard Buffett Foundation, to train
ex-combatant women in rice production.
In 2011, two IRRI-bred rice varieties, Vuninzara (IR77713)
and Gwizumwimbu (IR79511), which were developed especially
for Burundi, were released. Farmers rank these varieties higher
in grain quality of un-milled, milled, and cooked rice than
previously popular varieties. IRRI is also sharing rice breeding
lines with Burundi that are being tested at a number of IRRI field
sites around the country.
March 2015 | 81