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Coalition for African Rice Development



TOKYO, 3 – 4 JUNE 2009



The city of Tokyo hosted the Second General Meeting of the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) on 3–4 June 2009 under the joint chairmanship of Mr Kenzo Oshima, Senior Vice-president of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Dr Namanga Ngongi, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The keynote address was delivered by Mrs Sadako Ogata, President of JICA, and Mr Kofi Annan, President of AGRA. Participants included delegates from the 'first group' of 12 sub-Saharan African countries approved at CARD's First General Meeting, observers from two Sub Sahara African countries, the secretariat of the Mano River Union, 21 organizations in the role of support partners, and six Asian countries, Brazil and Egypt as South-South cooperation partners.


CARD progress brief by the CARD Secretariat

Following the First CARD General Meeting in October 2008 and the establishment that month of the CARD Secretariat, the first group of 12 CARD countries – Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda – developed their national rice development strategies (NRDS). JICA also carried out a study in these countries of on-going and previously-completed rice-related projects supported by development partners. This had prepared the ground for meetings between the NRDS working groups, their governments and development partners to discuss implementation of national strategies.

Presentation of National Rice Development Strategies by the first group of countries

Delegates from the 12 first group countries presented their National Rice Development Strategies (NRDS). Each of them put forward strong arguments for developing the rice sub sectors in their countries based on sound evidence and rational choice of development opportunities. While the documents needed some improvement, particularly on prioritization and on the detail of sub-sector activities, they were considered to be sufficiently advanced to allow governments and their development partners to focus on the most urgent actions needed to realize each country's rice production potential.

Comments on the NRDS by the CARD Secretariat Technical Working Group

All the 12 NRDS documents underwent technical analysis by the CARD Secretariat Technical Working Group and consolidated the comments as follows:

  • Rice is an important staple food in all of the 12 countries out of which 10 are endeavoring to be self-sufficient by 2018. Madagascar, Mali, Tanzania and Sierra Leone also aim to become net exporters of rice. The projected production gains through the NRDS are generally optimistic, with even 10 fold increases. On average, countries propose to triple yields over the next 10 years.
  • Among the 12 countries, Madagascar, Mali, Senegal, Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania mainly focus on irrigated systems, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Uganda mainly rainfed lowland systems, and Cameroon and Guinea mainly upland systems. The projected production increases will be obtained through a combination of expansion of harvested area and intensification. While the targeted yields are optimistic they seem to be generally attainable, some countries are clearly over-optimistic with respect to expansion targets, especially for the irrigated areas.
  • The NRDS acknowledged a number of constraints to be overcome such as lack of access to loans and unsuitable land tenure institutions. Women generally face greater difficulty than men to access land, inputs, credit, technologies, but the NRDS are mostly silent about how such constraints can be overcome and how women can play a more significant role in rice value chains.
  • The projected seed needs are in most cases over-estimated, with some countries assuming that all seed to be produced will be of certified quality. Seed systems are clearly an area that needs support.
  • The requirement to invest in building new and rehabilitating existing irrigation infrastructures was underlined but without fully addressing issues of ownership, operation and maintenance. In order to direct appropriate investment, it is important to harmonize policies, to improve marketing, input supplies, mechanization, seed production, post-harvest handling and to take account of consumer preference. While each NRDS recognized that action had to be taken to improve human capacity, none of them explained how this should be done.
  • Cross-border issues such as water catchments, international rice trading, seed policies and mechanisms for subsidizing and making fertilizers available had been treated in isolation but need to be tackled at the regional level.


Discussion on the NRDS

The Meeting recognized and appreciated the effort made by each country and the help given by the Coalition in preparing the NRDS within a limited time-frame but advised that the NRDS should still be treated as evolving documents. They were ready for use by the countries and development partners even as they continue to be sharpened for establishing priorities and defining approaches. It was argued that the NRDS should be more explicit about the short, medium and long-term costs of implementation as a basis for formulating viable financing plans.


Discussion focused also on the question of aligning the NRDS with the development frameworks that are in place at national and regional levels. The CARD Initiative had been taken to ensure that the NRDS priorities would be properly reflected in the major development documents such as the policy reduction strategy papers (PSRP), strategies for developing the national agricultural sectors and national and regional Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Compacts so that they would be eligible for both development aid and domestic financing.


This point led to another crucial recommendation regarding the implementation/governance structure for the NRDS to take into account that many activities will fall outside the scope of the Ministries of Agriculture. The Meeting called for the inclusion and involvement of all concerned ministries at national and international levels to ensure full country ownership that will enable efficient implementation of the NRDS.


The importance of real examples and lessons drawn from previous interventions, including the Asian Green Revolution, for evolving national and regional rice development plans and strategy documents was emphasized during the discussion.


Key points concerning the sub-sectors which were picked out and well received by the participants included:

  • production of quality seed is a fundamental requirement which must involve a mixture of private and community seed producers
  • guaranteed access to fertilizers is equally important but the lesson drawn from the Asian Green Revolution is that it is unwise to concentrate only on chemical fertilizers so farmers need advice on the use of both organic and inorganic fertilizers
  • repair and maintenance of infrastructure must be included in the management and use of water schemes
  • a strong research component is needed to assure the achievement of expected yield increases and to enable the management of biotic stresses
  • sustainable 'smart' subsidies are required that will encourage the private sector but also have exit strategies that will enable farmers to carry on without support
  • opportunities exist for large farm businesses, both locally- and foreign-owned, but these are not addressed by the NRDS
  • poverty reduction and food security goals should be attainable, and even helped, by not restricting rice production only to smallholders
  • CARD's human capacity development strategy must go beyond the simple training of individuals to include improvement in the way trainees will be employed. It must also consider the gender dimension as women form a large part of the workforce.


Development Partners' approach to African rice development

Presentations were made by NEPAD, IRRI/WARDA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, JICA, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, USAID, UNDP, AGRA, FAO, IFAD, WFP and IWMI all of which confirmed their strong support for the CARD Initiative. The exchange on rice-related interventions by these development partners stimulated the participants to recognize that each partner has its own unique functions and roles to play in the value chains, and therefore good partner coordination, with a sound distribution of functions based on a rational division of labor, would raise the impact on rice sector development in a more efficient and effective manner. The Meeting was informed that this would be facilitated through the next round of the CARD Initiative when the needs-to-resources matching exercise takes place later in the year.


Other development partner recommendations included:

  • more dialogue at both national and the headquarters' levels to harmonize support for the implementation of the NRDS
  • evidence-based advocacy to ensure that African rice development gets its ‘fair share’ in the Development Partners' cooperation strategies
  • a more comprehensive information system extending to the village level should be established to capture and share information among stakeholders. The development partners could contribute to building public-private partnerships for information and advisory services
  • there is need for more thought to be given to energy issues including mechanization of cultivation and post-harvest actions. CARD can help catalyze innovative technologies, especially for communities that are off the power grid.


South-South Cooperation for African rice development

The delegates from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Egypt and Brazil set out the rice-related strengths of their countries and what they could bring to cooperation within Africa. Their experience, particularly in capacity building, technology transfer and management of pilots and demonstrations, will add value to the planning and implementation of rice sector development in sub-Saharan Africa. The Meeting equally felt that such collaboration should be well focused and based on the comparative advantage of each partner, and also insisted on equal emphasis on scientists, experts and trainers being sent to sub-Saharan Africa as on the training of personnel from sub–Saharan Africa outside their home countries. Furthermore, the contributors to the debate took note of the need for the support of development partners to be able to fully exploit the potential of these South-South partners.


Next steps

After the presentations and deliberations stated above, the Meeting determined to maintain the momentum of the CARD Initiative and recommended the following actions.

  • The CARD Initiative shall immediately assist each of first group countries to establish coordination mechanisms, building on existing institutional frameworks, for the implementation of the NRDS. This includes not only the coordination of rice-related interventions by relevant stakeholders, but also coordination for ensuring the alignment of NRDS to relevant development and finance frameworks, including CAADP and PRSPs to get political buy-in and adequate financing for rice-related investment.
  • At regional level, actions should be taken to identify areas of value-adding intervention and modalities.
  • As a first step towards implementation of the NRDS, the above-mentioned coordination mechanisms must:

-        carry out a detailed reconciliation of the needs and resources to identify the gaps and priority zones for immediate intervention;

-        refine the NRDS to take more explicit account of previous experience, and;

-        consult with stakeholders to coordinate and harmonize support measures while paying particular attention to capacity building

  • South-South cooperation and modalities for supporting cooperation from countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa must be encouraged and facilitated by the Secretariat in collaboration with the interested countries and institutions.
  • The CARD Secretariat should establish a CARD information system and web page without delay.


Other business

The Meeting endorsed the proposal of the Steering Committee, which had met on the eve of the event, to include the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank as new Steering Committee members in addition to eight existing members (Africa Rice Center (WARDA), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)).


Regarding information sharing, the 'first group' of CARD countries agreed to have their NRDS widely distributed, while development partners present at the meeting agreed that the information shown in the report ‘Baseline Survey on Rice-related Projects in sub-Saharan Africa’ could be made accessible to the public.


The participants also agreed that the next CARD General Meeting will be held within one year and the next Steering Committee tentatively in November 2009.


The Chair’s concluding statement

Mr. Oshima from the Chair stated that this was probably the first time that all the diverse stakeholders had met face to face. Their positive interactions had made it clear that there is great potential and willingness for collaboration from which both sides will gain, not just the Africans. This will have to be supported by the donors. JICA has set a good example with its support for South-South collaboration and it hopes that other donors will follow its example.