Africa could import 20 million tonnes of rice this year. And doubled by 2035 according to forecasts. A growing demand, at the same time as local rice production is struggling to scale up.
For several weeks now, Africa has been increasing purchases in the rice market. African importers use relatively stable Indian rice prices to replenish their stocks. The continent’s need for imported rice is revised upwards this year, according to the monthly newsletter for the rice market Osiriz, and can amount to 20 million tonnes. That is 3 million tonnes more than last year.
In question, a growing demand in city centers, but also a local production that is stagnating. Firstly, for climate reasons: the increasing drought is a real brake on rice cultivation. The second reason is the lack of means to fight the birds that attack the rice fields. Faced with this threat from the sky, which sometimes leads to the loss of half of production, banks and insurance companies are cautious. Rice farmers are therefore forced to minimize production costs and yields inevitably stagnate, explains Patricio Mendez del Villar, economist at the Center for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD)
“Insufficient state aid”The second boundary for local production is the states’ lack of real commitment, beyond election promises. “To buy social peace and guarantee access to affordable rice, governments tend to invest more in imported rice than in investments that will be profitable in 10 or 20 years,” says one rice trader.
“The large number of self – sufficiency in rice is all too often contradicted by facts”, adds our interlocutor, who insists: “rice is not a job that can be transferred to private individuals, the state must provide for them in the medium and long term for projects to be viable. ”.
In fact, African production is still limited to rice cultivation by small producers, who are trying to guarantee their consumption and who are struggling to market their surplus due to the lack of a suitable distribution network. Deficiencies that explain why most African rice-producing countries also import more and more rice.