FAO Director-General visits Africa Rice Center in Cotonou
4 November 2013, Cotonou, Benin – While on a visit to the Africa Rice Center, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva expressed his support for African countries in their efforts to reduce rice imports, forecast to total 12 million tons in 2013.
Dr Traore, Director of the Center, thanked the Director-General and said his visit brought honor to the Center and all the researchers who are working to provide African countries with scientific information and improved seeds.
Graziano da Silva visited the Center’s experimental plots as well as the gene bank and complimented the Director for its important work. He mentioned the common goal FAO and the Center has to solve the problem of hunger on a continent where two out of three people are chronically hungry.
He added that he believed that African rice consumption will continue to grow and that climate change and water scarcity will continue to put pressure on rice production. FAO would like to call for a joint effort to support African countries to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production, he added.
Graziano da Silva mentioned a rice program FAO started in Asia and said FAO was willing to do the same in Africa, as discussed at the recent Africa Rice Congress in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
He reassured Center staff that FAO would work with them and other partners such as JICA to follow up on commitments made at the Congress. They would all work in the fields of research, policy making and capacity development to significantly reduce rice import bills in Africa, he said.