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Japan’s contribution to Africa: empowerment of Africa through rice production

By Staff Writer
September 12, 2022
In our previous article, we have introduced what TICAD is and touched up on how Japan has been contributing to the development of Africa. This time, we will take a closer look at Japan’s approach to empowering Africa through sharing rice production technology for African countries to be able to sustainably enrich their country. In this article, we will look through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s project in Nigeria and Sierra Leone, and introduce how the projects have been carried over under the circumstance of Covid-19.
A woman looking over a field of grain

Nigeria: Project to strengthen rice post-harvest processing technology and marketing capacity

Nigeria is known as the largest rice producer among African countries. However, Nigeria has been facing difficulties on meeting its growing domestic demand for rice, and it is relying on imports of rice for approximately two-fifths of its consumption. The greatest obstacle to increasing domestic rice production is considered to be post-harvest processing technology. Due to inadequate post-harvest processing, the quality of domestically produced rice is low, with pebbles mixed in, a high percentage of crushed rice, and the color of white rice is not uniform, and it is traded at a lower price than imported rice.

This situation has been an obstacle for people involved in rice production to have willingness to expand their businesses and to increase their income level. Under this circumstance, the Nigerian government requested JICA to help in improving the quality of domestic rice and reduce the post-harvest loss rate. In this project, JICA created the following 4 pillars to improve the quality of domestically produced rice and reduce the post-harvest processing loss rate;
1) Identifying ways to promote the distribution of high-quality domestic rice
2) Improving quality standards for domestic rice
3) Strengthening the capacity of Agricultural Development Program staff, who are provincial government officials
4) Strengthening the capacity of small-scale rice millers, parboilers, and rice farmers, who are the ultimate beneficiaries.

As a result of these efforts, the project has attracted tremendous attention both domestically and internationally as a groundbreaking project focused on post-harvest processing and marketing.

Sierra Leone: Sustainable Rice Production Project

Sierra Leone is a country with fertile soil, a rich amount of rainfall, and plenty of sunshine. Thanks to these conditions Sierra Leone produces a variety of food crops such as rice, cassava, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. Sierra Leone is also known as one of the largest rice consuming countries in Africa, consuming more than 100 kg of rice per capita per year. However, according to Food and Agriculture Organization, domestic rice production is about 700,000 tons/year and. and they are also partly. However, they were not able to achieve self-sufficiency on their rice production due to having difficulties with increasing the productivity of local farmers, relying on importing about 300,00 tons of rice as of 2014. Therefore, the government of Sierra Leone requested help from Japan, asking that they share with them adequate production technology and methods so that the country will be able to effectively tackle domestic self-sufficiency and poverty.

To tackle on Sierra Leones’s difficult situation, Japan helped the country through the Agriculture and Rural Development Program, which aims to establish nationally applicable rice cultivation technology and extension methods, with a view to expanding rice production. JICA implemented two technical cooperation projects: the "Kambia Agricultural Enhancement Support Project" (2006-2009) and the "Sustainable Rice Crop Development Project" (2010-2014). These projects supported the preparation of a rice production package and sharing the knowledge of rice production technology among the farmers.
A rice plant ready to be harvested

Online knowledge sharing under the Covid-19

Japan has been working hard to conduct training of rice production technology through inviting trainee from Africa to Japan. In 2020, JICA has conducted it first online training and trainees who have previously participated the have shared their activities and the issues they faced after returning to their countries. In 2021, the pandemic still continued, so the second round of training was conducted online to continuously support Africa. In the 2nd round of training, JICA has implemented video materials to effectively share the knowledge and technology even though trainees are participating online.

While Covid-19 created challenges, it also turned out to be an opportunity to seek a new possibilities. For the post-covid era, now JICA is planning a training style that combines online and in-person training, such as conducting online courses on basic knowledge in advance and then conducting training in Japan.

Now, Japan is also struggling with the pandemic, and it may take a few more years for the situation to be totally back to normal. But we hope that the situation will became better, and Japan will be able to continuously support Africa through knowledge sharing of technology of rice production.
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