Rice farmers in East Africa are set to benefit from a US$3.1 million grant to a rice sector promotion project which will be implemented over a period of three years.
The Competitive African Rice Initiative in East Africa (CARI-EA), which is being implemented jointly by the East African Community (EAC) and Kilimo Trust (KT) seeks to improve the rice sub-sector in the region. The project was approved for funding by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in April 2019 and is now at the initial stage of implementation.
The project targets to reach 660,000 farming households (220,000 directly and 440,000 indirectly impacted). It aims to contribute to the inclusive transformation of the rice sector in East Africa for a sustainable increase in incomes of women, men and young people employed in the value chain of locally produced rice.
The 13th Meeting of the Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security held in Arusha, Tanzania was informed that the project will be implemented over a period of 36 months (April 15th, 2019 – April 14th, 2022).
The project funding is worth US$3,133,378 courtesy of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), whereby EAC will receive a grant of USD 322,600.
CARI-EA will support the EAC Secretariat to address the most critical bottlenecks in creating an enabling environment for structured trade in rice at both national and regional levels.
Key activities will include supporting EAC partner state governments to develop clear rice development plans and mobilize private sector investments in rice mills as well as public sector investments in irrigated rice schemes.
CARI-EA will also support private sector millers to utilize opportunities at the national, regional and extra-regional levels through strengthened market linkages to ensure sustainable rice supply. The project will also carry out assessment of supply chain and logistical constraints and opportunities that hinder processors from attaining desired quality and quantity of paddy from smallholder farmers.
To ensure that farmers sustainably increase productivity to supply the contracted volumes of paddy agreed with SMEs and large traders, CARI-EA will promote the use of irrigation technologies and use of residual moisture during the dry season for a second crop e.g. vegetables or beans so as to enable income continuity for farmers over the year while increasing household food security and reduction in vulnerability.
On its part, the EAC secretariat will aim to develop an EAC rice trade strategy involving all partner states, establish the EAC Regional rice platform and increase the membership of private sector processors and rice value chain actors in the industry platform, and undertake research into the issues affecting rice regional trade.
The Secretariat will also establish rice traceability and certification mechanism for locally produced rice in the EAC and promote the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) protocol already developed by the Community.
“The ultimate aim of the project is to unlock constraints that hinder regional rice trade and thus catalyse growth by stimulating investment, create competitiveness and inclusiveness in the rice industry,” said EAC in a press statement released Thursday evening in Arusha.
Furthermore, CARI-EA will partner with National Agricultural Research Centres and seed agencies in partner states to ensure that enough breeder seed is available for multiplication by commercial rice seed companies.
On aflatoxin control and management, the Sectoral Council urged partner states to address the issue of aflatoxin as a serious matter by putting in place measures to address contamination and disposal challenges along with the food and feeds value chains.
The Community adopted the EAC Aflatoxin Prevention and Control Strategy, Action Plan and Results Framework.
The agricultural sector contributes between 24 and 44% of partner states’ GDPs and employs between 70 – 80% of the population in the region.
She added that it was a key sector in the transformation and development of EAC partner states, particularly in employment creation and increasing national agriculture export earnings.
EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of the productive and social sectors, Christophe Bazivamo, said that the region has a huge potential for agricultural production, but the sector was facing challenges related to food insecurity, climate change, and trade.
“The sector supports over 80% of the population and is the main source of raw materials for industries in the region. More than 70% of the industries in the region are agro-based and agricultural commodities and products constitute about 65% of the volume of intra-regional trade,” said Bazivamo.
He noted that region has been experiencing a decline in intra-regional trade over the last five years yet trade was essential for the promotion of agricultural production and industrial development.