climate Change
climate Change

The program, run by the Upper Noun Valley Development Authority (UNVDA), is also in partnership with Cameroon’s Institute of Agricultural Research and Development (IRAD).

climate Change
climate Change
“In the last 15 years, scientists have released 18 varieties under a line called New Rice for Africa (NERICA), developed by the Africa Rice Center which crossed an African species tolerant to local stresses, including drought and pests, and a high-yielding Asian species. These varieties can resist submersion, droughts and high temperatures including pests and diseases,” said UNVDA General Manager Richard Chin Wirnkar.

He said that local development authority is involved in a project led by the Africa Rice Center which has established a “rapid impact” seed programme to distribute new high-yield seed varieties to farmers and also promotes post-harvest technologies like rice milling and packaging, processing activities, and stronger links with input dealers and micro-finance institutions.

The project thus gives households opportunities to raise their income by developing new rice-based products like rice flour and husks for fuel, and exploring the use of rice in fortified foods, including vitamin-rich cereals.

The government acknowledges that achieving its plan to make Cameroon an emerging economy with double-digit growth by 2035, and implementing the new U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty and hunger depend largely on the economic empowerment of rice farmers, particularly women.

“With renewed government interest in the rice sector in recent years, Cameroon has the potential to become a rice granary for the Central African sub-region, according to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI),” said Wirnkar.

“But making this a reality requires strengthening rural infrastructure such as roads, irrigation, and rice milling and rice processing facilities as well as farmers’ ability to market their produce.”

In the last few years, Cameroon grew less than 20 percent of the rice it needed. In 2012, the country produced only 102,000 tonnes of paddy rice and had to import up to 375,000 tonnes to meet national demand, according to figures cited by the IRRI.

It should be noted that in previous decades, the government’s reluctance to boast local production saw the massive importation of rice into the country which almost killed the local rice sector. The customs department of the Ministry of Finance put the rice importation figures in 2014 at 552,000 tonnes, up from 540,000 tonnes in 2013, mainly from Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, China and South Korea.

But over the last few years, the government has been mapping out strategists to revamp the rice sector and some institutions have been put in place to ensure this transformation, including UNVDA in the North-West and the Company for the Expansion and Modernization of Rice in Yagoua (SEMRY) project in the Far-North Region to boost local rice production.

In Cameroon, areas where rice production is currently going on include the Ndop and Mujang plains in the North-West Region, Tonga, Bandounga and Santchou in the West Region, Yagoua and Kousseri in the Far-North Region, and Nanga Eboko in the Centre Region with support from Chinese company Sino-Cam Iko.

Despite all these efforts, some constraints are still hindering the country from expanding and intensifying its rice production, including a lack of good-quality seeds and adequate equipment for labour-intensive tasks, and a lack of post-harvest technologies to make local rice competitive in the market. Thus, the country’s rice production has not yet been able to keep pace with the increasing national demand. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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