Rising trends and variability of rice prices: Threats and opportunities for sub-Saharan Africa
Nearly 40% of the rice consumed in Africa is imported. That is about one third of all rice traded in world markets. With such high dependence on imports, Africa is highly exposed to international market shocks with sometimes grave consequences for its food security and political stability as attested by events during the 2008 food crisis. In this paper, it is argued that Africa can turn the rising trends in world markets to a historical opportunity to realize its large potential for rice production. After a review of the policy responses of African countries to the 2008 global rice crisis, the opportunities and challenges for enhancing domestic rice supply are discussed. The competitiveness of rice production in Africa is analyzed for selected countries and rice ecologies. The potential for increasing paddy production is illustrated using a spreadsheet simulation that considers alternative rice sector development scenarios. Reducing the yield gap and expanding cultivated rice areas under lowland and irrigated hold the greatest potential for substantially increasing paddy production in Africa.
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