BURKINA FASO- Over the last decade, rice has become a staple in Burkinabè households, putting pressure on the productive apparatus and prompting the government to invest in increasing local production.
In Burkina Faso, rice is the 4th most produced cereal behind sorghum, millet, and maize, and it is the staple food whose growth in use has been the most significant in recent years, driven in particular by urbanization and population growth.
According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), consumption increased by almost 300,000 tons between 2015 and 2022.
Today, nationally, consumption is close to 1 million tons each year, with a per capita volume now exceeding 60 kg, according to the USDA.
With the dynamics of its consumption and the weakness of the local supply, rice has become over the last decade the main imported cereal.
According to USDA statistics, the country’s milled rice purchases almost doubled between 2015/2016 and 2022/2023 from 350,000 tons to 600,000 tons.
However, this dependence on the outside, which makes it possible to satisfy almost 60% of national needs, has a significant financial cost, with rice purchases costing an annual average of 68 billion CFA francs (approximately US$115 million) over the period 2016-2020, which makes it the 3rd most imported consumer product after hydrocarbons and essential medicines.
Bolstering production is paramount
Burkinabe authorities predict that the national demand could rise to 1.5 million tonnes by 2025, meaning that the sector still has a huge margin for continued production.
According to the authorities, if the production of paddy rice is currently close to 520,000 tons on only 230,000 hectares, the sector can count on the high availability of cultivable land to fill the gap in the coming years.
Official data indicates that the country has a potential of about 500,000 hectares of lowlands and more than 233,500 hectares of irrigable land that can go to rice cultivation.
Of this total, the FAO reports that only 10% of lowlands and less than 5% of irrigable areas are developed.
This is a real opportunity for private actors to increase the performance of the sector with investments in facilities to improve yields both in irrigated rice cultivation and in lowlands, particularly in the three most important regions for rice (Hauts-Bassins, Cascades, Boucle du Mouhoun).
According to the FAO, the average productivity varies in the two cropping systems, respectively, from 5 tons/ha to 2.6 tons/ha against potentials of 9 tons and 4 tons per hectare, making it a pretty profitable venture for investors to consider.