ADA, Ghana, The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), predicted that Africa would need a whopping seven billion U.S. dollars, for its rice imports annually, by 2020.

Abebe Haile-Gabriel, Officer-In-Charge of the FAO Regional Office for Africa, said this, in his message at the opening of the two-day conference on Sustainable Rice Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, in Ada, about 104 km east of Ghana’s capital, Accra.

He therefore noted that, there was the need for effective leadership and political will, coupled with concerted efforts for Africa to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production and also end hunger.

The African Rice Project is under the UN South-South Cooperation programme. China is one of the major development partners, supporting the South-South Cooperation programme, especially in Africa and Asia.

Official data by FAO indicated that in 2015 alone, African countries imported about 36 percent of their rice requirements, at a cost of about four billion dollars.

“The projection for 2020 do not seem to change that percentage: only that the drain on foreign exchange to foot the import bills are expected to rise to seven billion dollars annually,” the official said.

Haile-Gabriel urged that rice self-sufficiency for Africa should not only target meeting consumption needs locally, but also at the multiplier effect through the re-allocation of the much needed foreign exchanges and investing in the rice value chain development initiatives, that will create and expand employment opportunities.

Represented at the up-scaling conference were delegates from the ministries of food and agriculture of Ghana, Uganda, Cameroon, Benin, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Tanzania, Guinea, Kenya and Senegal.

Source: NAM News Network