Stream F - Agriculture Policy Reforms and Foresight - Production, Value Chains & Market

Many developing countries do not produce enough food to feed their own populations. These countries import food to fill the deficit. Better quality food imported at lower prices benefits the lives of millions of urban residents while negatively affecting rural populations engaged in farming activities for domestic markets, who struggle to compete.

National food security is one of the most important targets for such countries’ governments by adopting various agricultural policies that influence domestic agriculture production and agricultural products importation. Other commonly observed policy goals range from poverty reduction and price stability to product quality in terms of nutritious value and food safety, and from sustainable land use and climate change adaptation to employment opportunities.

In the case of the rice sub-sector in East Africa, rice imports increased by more than 600% in the last two decades. Domestic rice production also increased significantly but could not keep pace with the rapid growth in consumption, which has necessitated the gap being filled with imports, mainly from Asian countries. Agricultural policies adopted in the East African countries have focused on increasing the availability of rice, while managing the pressures on foreign reserves caused by importing rice in volume.

The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has also influenced the agriculture sector in general and rice production and rice value chain in particular. Disruptions caused by COVID-19 have affected labor availability, seed inspection and production activities, delivery of farm inputs and machinery services, food safety, productivity and profitability, and so forth. The impacts on these fronts vary between different countries and among different parts of a country. The role of each government to choose the right policy options is critical to improve their preparedness and strategize on how to maintain and increase their domestic rice production and ensure adequate supply, during and after the pandemic.

This thematic stream will focus on a number of case studies drawn from the experiences of the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) and other initiatives in East Africa and other rice-dependent nations, to understand how agricultural policies can positively influence innovation and transformation in rice-based agri-food systems at local, national, and regional levels.

Attendees will learn:

  • How the choice of policy options determines the result of programs/initiatives, using the case of the CARD Framework (Phase 1), which provided policy guidance to 23 member countries from 2008 to 2018

  • How some ‘supply push’ policies have not performed as expected, suggesting the importance of ‘demand pull’ policies to stimulate investment and innovation in the rice sector.

  • Why suitable policy options for rice sector development depend on the specific characteristics of each country’s rice sector, including the stages of its rice value chain upgrading, preference for and reliance on domestic versus imported rice, proximity to major sea ports, and other socio-economic and geographic factors.

  • Supporting integrated policy-making for specific actors can contribute to improvements in the rice sector, for example, by providing competitive financing and enhancing the roles for rice millers and traders in the preparation and distribution of safer and more nutritious rice.

  • How biophysical aspects of rice and ongoing research efforts can increase the quality and nutritional content of rice through breeding and biofortification.

20 May 2021

Virtual | East Africa Time (GMT+3)

11:00 - 12:30

Session F1

Agriculture Policy Reforms and Foresight - Production, Value Chains & Market

Chair: Dr. Valerien Pede, Head of Impact Evaluation, Foresight and Policy, International Rice Research Institute


  • Moving toward rice self-sufficiency in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030: Lessons learned from 10 years of the Coalition for African Rice Development - Dr. Aminou Arouna, Policy, Innovation System and Impact Assessment Program Leader, AfricaRice

  • Upgrading rice value chains in Africa: Lessons learned from 15 years of policy research - Dr. Matty Demont, Research Leader - Markets, Consumers, & Nutrition, International Rice Research Institute

Brief reflections

  • Mr. Douglas Kangi, Director, Crops Resources Agribusiness and Market Development (CRAMD, MoALF&C(, Kenya

  • Dr. Kathiresan Arumugam, CARD Secretariat In-charge of East African countries

Q&A and take away messages

Presentation overview

Moving toward rice self-sufficiency in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030: Lessons learned from 10 years of the Coalition for African Rice Development

The presentation analyzes the contribution of the CARD policy to rice production and forecasts the local rice supply and demand for a better understanding of the policies needed to attain rice self-sufficiency by 2030. A combination of the autoregressive integrated moving average method and counterfactual approach was adopted using rice statistical data fraom 23 countries in SSA. The rice production showed a continuous increase since 1996. However, the production increase was higher over the last decade (2008-2018) in the CARD participating countries compare to the decade of 1996-2007. The achievement varied among regions and countries during the CARD period. West Africa showed an increase of 143% (7.8 to 19.0 MT); Central/Southern Africa, 54% (0.4 to 0.7 MT); and East Africa, 50% (5.5 to 8.2 MT). The contribution of CARD to paddy rice production in 2018 was 10.2 million ton, equivalent to 74% of target. This resulted from the increasing of area and yield by 23% and 19%, respectively. However, yield growth rate was not sustainable in almost two-third of countries. Investments on supply-push factors such as fertilizer and irrigation development, which was the focus in the past, have less effect on the rice production. Scenario showed that with an annual increase in yield of 3% and area of 5.5% (increase of approximately 20% of yield and area growth rates compared to the baseline) would result in a production equivalent to 49.2 million tons of milled rice and would help to achieve self-sufficiency by 2030. We conclude that sustainable investments on demand-pull factors such as private-led modern milling sector and contract farming development should be prioritized for achieving rice self-sufficiency in SSA.

About the presenter

Dr. Aminou Arouna is the Program Leader for Policy, Innovation Systems and Impact Assessment Program, one of the four research programs at AfricaRice. Aminou is specialized in resources and environmental economy and impact assessment of technological and institutional innovations using quantitative methods. His works include ex-post impact assessment of NERICA varieties on poverty and food security, the experimental impact of RiceAdvice and contact farming schemes on livelihood using randomized control trial approach, gender learning and adoption in agriculture, rice value chain upgrading in West Africa and impact of rice policy. He published more than 70 papers in different journals including the American Journal of Agricultural Economist and the Journal of Development Economics.. Aminou obtained his PhD degree with distinction (Magna cum laude) at the University of Hohenheim (Germany) in 2009.

Presentation overview

Upgrading rice value chains in Africa: Lessons learned from 15 years of policy research

Thanks to comparative advantage, Asian countries hosting big deltas have become major rice exporters, contributing to food security in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) through massive Asian rice imports. Due to urbanization and dietary shift, rice consumption is growing fast in SSA and currently 40% is met through imports. Policy makers in 32 SSA countries are currently updating their National Rice Development Strategies (NRDS) under the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), which aims at doubling rice production by 2030. In this presentation, I provide evidence from 15 years of policy research to argue that increasing rice production requires concomitant investment in rice value chain upgrading. SSA countries can be segmented in three groups based on their exposure to rice imports and rice cultural heritage. Group 1 countries are coastal countries with long exposure to rice imports to the extent that consumers in major urban consumption poles have developed dominant preferences for imported rice. Group 2 countries are coastal countries with dominant consumer preferences for local rice thanks to exposure to rice cultural heritage (i.e., as a result of 3000 year old rice domestication along Niger river in West Africa and more recent Indianization in East Africa). The latter endows these rice sectors with a “comparative advantage in demand” relative to Group 1, where local rice is typically perceived as being inferior to imported rice. Group 3 represents landlocked countries that are somewhat physically shielded from the world market and where consumer preferences tend to favor local over imported rice. In the first set of NRDS, most investments were focused on increasing productivity of national rice sectors. I argue that Group 1 will have to invest more in rice value chain upgrading to help local rice compete quality-wise with imports before investments in productivity will pay off. I provide ample evidence from market experiments how upgrading of rice quality can help local rice in gaining market access in import-biased urban markets. The primary strategy in Group 2 and Group 3 is to increase productivity and maintain comparative advantage in demand through concomitant value chain upgrading. An assessment of the state of rice value chain upgrading in 15 countries in West Africa in 2019 indicates that upgrading is highly heterogeneous among countries. Group 1 and Group 3 countries have invested most in rice value chain upgrading, while Group 2 countries are lagging behind. Heterogeneity in upgrading can be explained for 89% through two drivers and an enabling factor: (i) supply, (ii) import bill, and (iii) limited comparative advantage in demand. Geographical proximity to rice cultural heritage seems to slow down investment in rice value chain upgrading. Although the progress in Group 1 and Group 3 countries is consistent with our earlier recommendations and encouraging, the low investment levels in rice value chain upgrading in Group 3 countries warrants attention. Policy makers can use this segmentation to define an optimal strategy for crowding-in of private investment in rice value chain upgrading in their respective countries, based on the successful examples of Nigeria and Senegal.

About the presenter

Dr. Matty Demont is a European bioscience engineer specialized in behavioral economics of food system transformation. He is currently Research Leader of Markets, Consumers and Nutrition at the CGIAR International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines (2013–present) and also serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of the Philippines School of Environmental Science and Management (2015–present) and Editorial Board member of Global Food Security (2014–present). He previously pioneered policy research on the modernization of African rice value chains at the Africa Rice Center (2007–2013). He has more than 20 years of experience leading research and engaging with policymakers on food system transformation throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. He acquired vast field experience through numerous surveys, value chain analyses, and behavioral experiments with consumers, farmers, food companies, and technology developers around the world. In 2012, his work was awarded the Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize by Agropolis Fondation, France, and the T.W. Schultz Award by the International Association of Agricultural Economists. He conducted his PhD and postdoctoral research on European biotechnology policy at KU Leuven, Belgium (1999–2007). He has published widely in refereed journals, books, and magazines and is a regular speaker at international conferences.

14:30 - 16:00

Session F2

Rice, Dietary Changes, and Household Food & Nutrition Security

Chair: Prof. Ruth Khasaya Oniang’o, Founder, Rural Outreach Africa


  • The role of rice millers in food systems transformation - implications for integrated policy making - Ms. Siobhan Kelly, Agribusiness Economist, FAO

  • Rice and Nutrition: Myths and Truth - Dr. Nese Sreenivasulu, IRRI Research Unit Leader for Consumer-Driven Grain Quality & Nutrition


  • Prof. Joyce Kinabo, Professor, Sokoine University of Agriculture

  • Dr. Sali Atanga Ndindeng, Associate Principal Scientist, AfricaRice

  • Mr. Edward Katende, CEO, Uganda Agribusiness Alliance

Q&A and take away messages

Presentation overview

The role of rice millers in food systems transformation

The presentation covers the results of qualitative research on an assessment of the business models of small and medium rice millers covering finance; procurement; marketing; management; employment; food safety and nutrition with implications for integrated policy making.

About the presenter

Siobhan Kelly is an Economist with FAO’s Food Systems and Food Safety Division. She leads normative work on areas related to the role of the private sector in food systems transformation, including topics covering food manufacturing, inclusive business models, and multisectoral and private sector engagement in agri-food sector strategy development She provides technical guidance on food value chain projects across FAO member countries. She began her career working for multinational companies in Spain, the United Kingdom and Ireland. She has also worked with the NGO sector supporting enterprise development and livelihoods, in addition to spending two years as a university lecturer in International Business in Central America. She has a Post-Grad Professional Diploma in Food Sector Strategy, an MA in International Relations and a BA (Hons) in International Business.

Presentation overview

Rice and Nutrition: Myths and Truth

Rice has played a vital role to cater the energy needs of world’s population, predominantly in Asia and its consumption is growing in Africa since 1973 at 6% annually. The preference of milled rice consumption in Africa over the course grain and tubers is significantly ensuring Africa’s food security, primarily due to reduced cooking time and higher palatability. African rice consumer’s demand milled rice in the form of premium quality which is long slender, translucent and aromatic rice varieties. Due to increased triple-burden nutrition challenges such as zero hunger, malnutrition (lack of micronutrients) and growing obesity with increased incidences of diabetes, it is important to provide diet based nutrition solution within rice to address human health and to address future nutritional security. While there is a clear value established between consumption of whole grain (brown/pigmented rice) and human health to address triple burden nutrition challenges, consumers till today widely prefer milled rice consumption which is rich in calorie and lacks nutrients. While breeding rice varieties for Africa it is important to consider the natural diversity/genetic variation for various nutritional properties and reintroduce the missing traits into the main breeding pool to develop rice varieties meeting future food and nutritional security issues. In this context we have systematically reviewed the myths and truth and developed holistic strategies to develop varieties which cater the energy and nutritional need of human health of African continent. The key strategic shift we need is (a) to tweak the starch quality to lower glycemic index of rice without altering texture, (b) promote rare nutritious rice lines, possessing higher antioxidant properties due to elevated flavonoids in the whole grain (red) rice shown to exhibit chemo-preventive properties in cancer cell lines, (c) enhancing micronutrients through biofortification and fortification of milled and brown rice to enhance the nutritional density and to improve the cooking properties of brown rice and prevent rancidity. These findings reinforce the importance of brown/pigmented rice as a nutritionally dense staple foodstuff, while providing genetic links to pivotal metabolites as indispensable targets of human nutrition.

About the presenter

Dr. Nese Sreenivasulu is an experienced senior research scientist and Head of research center, provides scientific leadership for International Rice Research Institute (IRRI’s) research on grain quality and nutritional qualities of rice grain using holistic approaches such as biochemistry, genetic and genomics. He is responsible for implementing grain quality research to support breeding initiatives, including overseeing research programs of IRRI’s Grain Quality Nutrition program. He played an active role at IRRI in the Philippines and in IPK, Germany with extensive experience in writing proposals and managing federal and industrial funding of up to 15 Million USD, as primary investigator. He serves on various scientific journals as an Editor and reviewer for research grant agencies around the world to advise the frontiers of research in the fields of seed developmental biology, grain quality, and yield stability with genomics and systems biology experience. Author of over 116 research papers in major international journals with H-index factor of 48, contributed to 32 book chapters, and edited a book. Being an Adjunct Professor at UPLB and DLSU, he contributes to capacity development and supervising research students.