From 21-24 October 2013, Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé will host the 3rd Africa Rice Congress, which is bringing together more than 650 participants from 60 countries – including 36 countries from Africa and 24 countries from outside Africa – to discuss recent developments in science and technology, policies, agri-business issues and investment opportunities relating to Africa’s rice sector.
The Congress comes at an important time as rice has become critical for food security and political stability throughout Africa. Despite recent increases in rice production in several African countries, the continent imported 12 million tons of rice in 2012 alone valued at US$ 5 billion. The critical challenge facing the African rice sector today is to enhance performance in production, processing and marketing.
With the theme ‘Rice Science for Food Security through Smallholder and Agri-business Development in Africa’, the Congress will provide a forum for representatives from the public and private sectors including rice experts, development partners, policy makers, investors, traders, processors and farmers to address this challenge.
The 3rd Africa Rice Congress is being co-organized by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development of Cameroon (IRAD).
The objectives of the Congress are to:
Provide a platform to discuss rice science and technology aimed at improving rice production, processing and marketing along the value chain whilst preserving environmental services and coping with climate change.
Provide a platform for development organizations, farmer associations, civil society, private sector and research organizations to communicate and interact for greater and equitable impact on food security and value chain development.
Discuss effective policy instruments and investments at national, regional and continental levels for sustainable smallholder and agri-business development to boost Africa’s rice sector.
A number of distinguished keynote speakers and panelists will steer the discussions to achieve the key objectives. A major highlight of the Congress program is a Ministerial Policy Dialogue on rice sector development which is being organized with support from FAO.
The Congress program features two plenary debates on key issues relating to rice research for development (R4D): ‘How to make genetics work for Africa’ and ‘Rice value chain actors: from seed to markets.’
The heart of the Congress program is a set of five mini-symposia organized in parallel sessions around the following sub-themes:
Climate resilient rice for Africa’s environments and markets
Sustainable intensification and diversification of rice based systems
Rice processing and marketing
Rice policy for food security through smallholder and agri-business development
Innovation systems and ICT tools for rice value chain development
The program also includes a “World Café,’ which offers an excellent learning and networking platform for the participants to share their ideas and insights on topics of mutual interest. Sponsored lunch sessions will provide an opportunity to the Congress sponsors to engage with the audience on specific issues.
The Congress Exhibition will showcase some of the latest rice research and development products from national and international organizations. It features a special section on small-scale rice mechanization including a demonstration by local manufacturers and a dialog with the heads of local manufacturing companies from several countries, including Cameroon, Senegal, Mauritania, Ghana, Nigeria and Benin.
A major component of the Congress program is the Cameroon Day, which includes a visit to see the activities of the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD). Cameroon has been specially selected as the venue for this international conference because of the huge growth potential of the rice sector in this country.
As part of the special events of the Congress, a new book, “Realizing Africa’s Rice Promise,” jointly published by AfricaRice-CABI, will be released. The book provides a comprehensive overview of Africa’s rice sector and ongoing rice research and development activities, indicating priorities for action on how to realize the rice promise in a sustainable and equitable manner.
A side event will focus on a training course in science journalism relating to rice R4D activities in Africa, where selected media professionals from Cameroon will be mentored by international science journalists before and during the Congress. The training course is being organized with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Rice, known as the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP).
During the closing ceremony, awards will be presented for best papers, posters and most promising young scientist. Outstanding local entrepreneurs from Africa involved in two key areas of the rice sector (seed production and local manufacturing of small-scale machinery) will also be recognized.
On 25 October, directly after the closure of the Africa Rice Congress, the 2013 Global Forum of GRiSP will be held to report on achievements in rice science world-wide. GRiSP partners from Latin America, Africa, and Asia will discuss the workings of each other’s rice sectors.
For more information, please visit the Congress website: http://www.africarice.org/arc2013/