Since 2010, the Government of Spain has supported the regional project APRAO [Improvement of Rice Production in West Africa] with total funding of USD 5.8 million primarily for responding to soaring food prices in the region. To achieve this, the project’s immediate objective is increasing rice production by enhancing the capacity of small-scale seed enterprises and farmers with a particular focus on the active involvement of women. The project targets countries among those most affected by the soaring food prices, that are Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.
The bill for importing rice in West Africa is huge and is rising year by year. In order to reduce this dependency and ensure better allocation of scarce resources, domestic production of rice must be improved to meet national needs. In this regard, the APRAO project is assisting the target countries in efficient utilization of the basic agricultural input, quality seed of locally adapted varieties, to increase production and attain sustainable sub-regional food security.
The implementation of project activities is according to national development strategies in the agricultural sector and based on a "holistic" and participatory approach involving all stakeholders in the rice value chain.
This initiative represents a concrete intervention derived from FAO’s response to the soaring food prices of 2007-2008 and the impact on vulnerable populations. Although this is a regional project, it comprises national components and is implemented at the local level in the participating countries. This is done in close collaboration with the Integrated Production and Pest Management (IPPM) and Farmer Field School (FFS) programmes and the FAO's Regional Office for Africa and Sub-regional Office for West Africa, under the technical supervision of the AGPMG unit at FAO Headquarters in Rome.