Stream A - Rice Research & Development

Rice research plays an important role in addressing major challenges related to rice production in the East Africa region, including access to high-yielding, nutritious and climate-resilient varieties, better farm management practices, efficient delivery systems, and strong value chains. This session will focus on two critical aspects: Rice mechanization and postharvest technologies adapted to local conditions and the roles of Regional Centers of Excellence in accelerating rice research for development.

The use of agricultural machinery is limited in the region, and harvest and postharvest losses are relatively high with dominance of traditional production methods leading to low yields, poor grain quality, and less market value and competitiveness compared with imported rice. Scientists and experts in this session will share experiences from Asia and Africa to effectively address these issues.

Several Centers of Excellence are now being established in East Africa to act as ‘incubation centers’ and ‘lighthouses’ for innovative research, capacity building, and technology validation and dissemination. Two models will be presented in this session: the Regional Rice Research and Training Center established by the Japan International Cooperation Agency at the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Uganda, developing innovative rice technologies and human resources, and the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute-Ifakara, as the Center of Excellence for Rice, sharing examples from the East Africa Agricultural Productivity Program of the World Bank. This session will also bring in discussions on the potential roles that these centers should play in coordinating research and development efforts in the region, including those under the new ‘One CGIAR’ initiative.

Attendees will learn:

  • How innovations in agricultural mechanization and postharvest management based on appropriate technologies and practices suited to local farming contexts can transform rice production and improve productivity, product quality, and competitiveness.

  • The role of national and regional Centers of Excellence in accelerating ‘Research for Development’ for rice-based systems transformation in the region.

  • How such centers are coordinating efforts of various stakeholders, promoting research-extension linkages, and building public-private partnerships at both country and regional levels.

19 May 2021

Virtual | East Africa Time (GMT+3)

13:30 - 15:00

Session A1

Innovations in Rice Mechanization and Postharvest: Adapting to African Conditions

Chair: Dr. Etienne Duveiller, Director Research for Development (D4RD), AfricaRice


  • Mechanization and Postharvest of Rice: Could lessons learned in Asia be useful for Africa? - Engr. Martin Gummert, Senior Scientist, International Rice Research Institute


  • Prof. Christopher Kanali, Lecturer, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology

  • Dr. Joseph Mpagalile, Agricultural Engineer (Sustainable Mechanization), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Q&A and take away messages

Presentation overview

Mechanization and Postharvest of Rice: Could lessons learned in Asia be useful for Africa?

Starting with the Green Revolution, mechanization of rice production and improving traditional postharvest practices have been very successful in Asia. Land preparation in most Asian countries is fully mechanized and combine harvesting is being introduced at rapid speed in recent years. In Africa attempts to mechanize, undertaken using different evolving paradigms, were less successful, and in some cases resulted in machinery graveyards and in others in stagnation of adoption of machines. While in 1960 Sub-Saharan Africa had a higher tractor population than all other developing-country regions, it has now only as many tractors as Thailand alone *.

Some scholars attribute the slow pace in Africa to different conditions, for example the common use of draft animals for land preparation prior to mechanization in Asia, compared to the prevailing use of manual labor in Africa. This requires skipping one mechanization stage in Africa when shifting to using machines. There were also some major differences in mechanization strategies when comparing Asia with Africa. In Asia mechanization of rice production was from the very beginning based on scale-appropriate machinery. Machines like the IRRI axial flow thresher or the IRRI power tillers were initially equipped with locally available stationary engines, and mechanization was facilitated through the collaboration with and strengthening of the private manufacturing and service sectors at an early stage of technology development, verification and commercialization. In Africa mechanization often was approached through importing large machinery like four-wheel tractors and combine harvesters. A dynamic private sector for providing mechanization support services, as it can be found in Asia, was also often lacking in Africa, or constrained by the lack of enabling business and policy environments. Other reasons cited are different soil conditions, abundance of labor and socio-economic constraints.

Recently, the success story of AfricaRice with the import of an IRRI thresher in the mid 1990s followed by adaptation to local conditions and commercialization through cooperation with a private manufacturer in Senegal demonstrates, that similar approaches as used in Asia, can also work in Africa. This thresher is now produced and marketed in several countries in Africa.

This presentation will outline recent successful and scale appropriate mechanization and postharvest technologies and management options for different scales and stages of mechanization trajectories, and the conditions required for the introduction.

Using case studies from Asia it then presents the lessons learned from sustainable mechanization and postharvest initiatives in Asia, explain the factors that lead to success or to failure and elaborates on some of the lessons learned that can potentially be useful for the African context, as basis for the following discussion.

* Geoffrey C. Mrema. 2021. Paradigm Shifts and the Development of Agricultural Mechanization in Sub Saharan Africa: A Case Study of Farm Power. AfricaMechanize Discussion Paper 01 – April 2021

About the presenter

Engr. Martin Gummert, a graduate of the University of Hohenheim, Germany, is a Senior Scientist leading IRRI's mechanization and postharvest research for development. He is leading the Closing the Yield Gaps in Asia (CORIGAP) project that aims at co-developing science-based tools to close yield gaps while protecting the environment; implement effective and widespread diffusion of project outputs, leading to improved production systems that increase the livelihoods of smallholder rice farmers; and meet the increases in rice production required to maintain food security in Asia.

Martin is an agricultural engineer with more than 30 years of experience working in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He is an internationally recognized expert on sustainable agricultural development, with specific expertise on postharvest, mechanization, SMI promotion, and value chain upgrading. He has published extensively; he authored and co-authored 37 peer-reviewed journal papers, 23 book chapters, edited one book, and authored 63 other papers and proceedings. He is a life member of the Asian Association of Agricultural Engineers AAAE, and member of the German Association of Engineers, VDI. He received 4 awards including the Medal for the Cause of Agricultural Development from Vietnam.

From 1991 to 1997, Martin led for the University of Hohenheim and GTZ a collaborative project with IRRI on Postharvest Technologies for Rice in the Humid Tropics. He was team leader of the Indonesian German Assistance to the Indonesian Agricultural Machinery Project (ATIAMI) from 1997 to 2001 and worked as a development consultant from 2001-2003. In 2003 he has re-joined IRRI.

15:00 - 16:30

Session A2

Establishing Regional Centres of Excellence for Rice R&D

Chair: Mr. Shinjiro Amameishi, Deputy Director General, Economic Devt Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency


  • PRiDe Project and Regional Rice Research and Training Center in Uganda - Dr. Jiro Nozaka, Chief Advisor, Promotion of Rice Development Project Phase 2 (PRiDe II), Japan International Cooperation Agency

  • The Contribution of Rice of Excellence to National and Regional Rice Productivity - Dr. Atugonza Bilaro, TARI Ifakara Centre Manager


  • Dr. John Kimani, CEO, KALRO-Mtwapa

  • Dr. Shuichi Asanuma, Senior Advisor, Japan International Cooperation Agency

  • Dr. Biswanath Das, NARES Coordinator, CGIAR-EiB Platform

Q&A and take away messages

Presentation overview

PRiDe Project and Regional Rice Research and Training Center in Uganda

In Uganda, its domestic consumption has been growing steadily with the change in food culture, and the gap between domestic production and domestic consumption has been increasing like other African countries. In this context, the Government of Uganda requested the Japanese government to provide support in the rice sector and the Japanese government through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) started the assistance in rice sector since 2004. JICA, in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), established the base for research and training for rice at National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) which is one of research institutes under National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in the suburbs of Kampala, and started technical support for the rice sector in Ugandan, especially for upland NERICA. In 2011, Regional Rice Research and Training Center (RRRTC) was established within NaCRRI through Japanese grant aid scheme. JICA implemented the Promotion of Rice Development Project Phase 1 from 2012 to 2019 based on the RRRTC and 2nd phase is in progress from 2019 under collaboration with MAAIF and NARO.

The PRiDe project has extended its scope to include not only upland NERICA but also lowland rice. In Phase 1, the capacity of rice-related researchers at NaCRRI and some Zonal Agricultural Research Institute (ZARDIs) was strengthened, and provision of knowledge and technologies to the small-scale farmers through TOT and TOF was implemented, contributing significantly to the expansion of rice production area and increase in production. Phase 2 focuses on research support to NaCRRI and ZARDIs for the improvement of productivity together with development of distribution system of high-quality seed, and introduction of the new extension system, so-called Musomesa Field School (MFS) together with conventional extension activities. Musomesa means “teacher” in local language which utilize experienced rice farmers with expectation of cascade effect because of less number and capacity of extension officers.

In the context of PRiDe activities, the RRRTC has two regional functions, the first of which is to serve as a regional center of excellence for research and extension activities in Uganda. Uganda is a highly decentralized country with more than 150 Districts without a local government function to oversee each zone. However, the country is divided into nine zones, and each of which is under jurisdiction of ZARDI. Therefore, RRRTC at NaCRRI is positioned as the hub for research and extension linkage in the rice sector in Uganda, and each ZARDIs is positioned as the hub for zonal activities for research and extension. The other regional function of RRRTC is to be a hub for research and training activities in the African region and to provide individual support to African member countries within the framework of CARD. RRRTC receive rice researchers from other African countries for the technical exchange with Ugandan researchers, and provide training on rice cultivation to the extension resources from other African countries.

About the presenter

Dr. Jiro Nozaka is currently the Chief Advisor for the Promotion of Rice Development Project Phase 2 (PRiDe II), which is the technical cooperation project of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO). PRiDe II Project has the base at National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI), one of the national institutes under NARO, and supporting three major components, i.e., research, quality seed production, and training and extension under the linkage between research and extension. He has been involved in technical cooperation activities especially in Africa over 30 years. He has been the advisor to the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD) in Kenya (15 years), Irrigation Advisor and Technical Service Advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in Tanzania (4 years), and Agriculture and Rural Development Advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in Zambia (3 years), and Agricultural Planning Advisor to MAAIF in Uganda (4 years).

Presentation overview

The Contribution of Rice of Excellence to National and Regional Rice Productivity

The presentation highlights the activities of the centre of excellence in relation to the core objective of its establishment, the achievement to date; sustainability issues for R&D, the challenges faced and suggested ways of overcoming them. Finally, the presenter suggests way forward for increasing collaboration and knowledge sharing and deployment of technologies and innovation across the region.

About the presenter

Dr. Atugonza Bilaro is the Centre Manager at TARI Ifakara which is the national rice research coordination centre. He is a plant breeder specializing in rice and maize with over 10 years in the industry. He has released a number of varieties as lead or member of the team. Having attended mentorship programs at CIMMYT, JICA, and IRRI, he also dedicates his time to undertake mentorship programs for upcoming breeders in the country.