Mali benefits from South-South Cooperation for the development of the rice sector

FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture and Malian rice stakeholders meet to discuss the advancement of more efficient, sustainable and productive rice systems

20/03/2017 - 

20 March 2017, Mali - Making rice systems more effective, sustainable and productive, in order to increase food security for Malian smallholders, is the theme of the launching workshop of project GCP/RAF/482/VEN, "Partnership for Systems Development Sustainable Rice in Sub-Saharan Africa", held in Bamako on March 16, 2017, within the Department of Finance and Equipment (DFM) of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Funded by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the project will support the main producers in the region, including Benin, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda, by fostering partnerships, capacity-building of stakeholders in the rice sector, and the purchase of agricultural equipment for the support of smallholders.

The launching workshop provided an opportunity to inform and sensitize the main stakeholders of the Malian rice sector and to identify the project’s priorities in the country. The workshop was attended by representatives of the National Directorate of Agriculture, the Commissariat for Food Security (CSA), the National Directorate of Rural Engineering (DNGR), the Institute of Rural Economy (IER), the Directorate of the Mali Seed Association (ASEMA), Mali’s National Rice Producers' Platform, the National Seed Service (SSN) Ségou, the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations, Mali's National Seed Association (PNPR-M), the National Rice Specialization Centre (CNS-Riz), the Office of Niger (ON), the Permanent Assembly of the Chambers of Agriculture of Mali (APCAM), the Permanent Assembly of Chambers (APCM) of Mali, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mali (CCIM).

Mali's rice sector development

On occasion of the opening ceremony of the workshop, Mr Seydou Keita, Technical Adviser of the Ministry of Agriculture, recalled the context in which rice growing in Mali develops, highlighting the importance of rice in terms production, consumption and income generation, notably for smallholders, but also by discussing the legislative instruments for the organization of the country's agricultural policy. In his speech, Mr Keita also mentioned the potential and constraints linked to several factors, such as the presence of rivers in Mali and rapid urbanization.

Speaking on behalf of the FAO Representation in Mali, Mr Modibo Touré, Assistant to the Representative, highlighted the importance of rice for food security and recalled the challenges facing this sector: "Although considerable progress has been made in Mali, the country continues to rely heavily on imports to meet growing rice consumption needs."

Ms Cristina Alderighi, Programme Officer at FAO's South-South Cooperation Unit (SSC), gave a general overview of the project, recalling that SSC has emerged as a major vehicle to support the knowledge exchange process, technologies and experiences among the countries of the South. The main lines of action and the work plan for the Mali component were presented by Mr Demba Diallo, National Project Coordinator, and subsequently validated during the workshop. In particular, the project will focus on the following priorities: (i) promotion of effective rice production systems, supported by the promotion of best practices and the upgrading of proven and tested technologies; (ii) development of agrifood models along the rice value chain for increased production and productivity; and (iii) reduced post-harvest losses and improved grain quality.

In conclusion, recommendations were made for the smooth running of the project in Mali, in particular: (i) highlight the expected outputs for the studies to be carried out; (ii) express the quantities of seed to be produced; (iii) support the registration and listing commission for varieties in the national catalog; (iv) organize tasting sessions for the new varieties distributed; and (v) take into account, for the sketches, the promotion of parboiled rice.

The challenges facing the rice sector

Rice is the primary source of food energy in West Africa and third in sub-Saharan Africa. Rice consumption is increasing more than any other staple food in the region, at a rate of about 5.5 percent per year. Despite the great potential of the African continent for rice production, the gap between supply and demand persists and most African countries continue to depend on imports to meet their growing rice consumption needs, currently accounting for an annual expense of USD 5 billion. This poses a serious food security problem, and African countries must work to address some of the challenges, such as: (a) limiting imports; (b) increasing productivity; c) reducing post-harvest losses; (d) improving seed quality; and (e) introducing high-yielding varieties of rice as a solution to stimulate low crop productivity.

Given the context, the project will enable the sharing of technologies and innovations among beneficiary countries, as well as capacity building, while facilitating access by smallholders, especially women and young people, to inputs and small-scale agricultural equipment.