WEST AFRICA – Rice production in West Africa is poised to increase following a farmers’ training program by the Rice Miller Business Academy run by the German Cooperation and the Bill & Melinda Gate Foundation.

According to Ecofin Agency, the training program is aimed at providing business-oriented training to rice farmers in West Africa to support the West African region in achieving food self-sufficiency.

As part of this initiative, the program launched a first project aimed at training academy trainers. A call for applications was open for this purpose until September 6.

The training will focus on five themes, namely: practical marketing for rice mills, rice processing activity, finance for a rice mill, profitable services for farmers, and milling operations.

The training targets people residing in Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, and Senegal.

Rice is an important staple in West Africa, with consumption set to grow by 70% to 24 million metric tons by 2025. Rice has become a highly strategic commodity in the region as the largest source of food calories.

Further, the West African region is endowed with significant rice-growing potential. However, low productivity and high processing and marketing costs hamper the competitiveness of local rice in the regional market.

This results in the West African region depending on international imports for almost 40% of its rice supply from Thailand, Vietnam, and India.

Therefore, by strengthening the capacity of businesses in this sector, the program hopes to contribute to food self-sufficiency efforts.

Rice Miller Business Academy aims to support the Rice Offensive to drive and bolster a regional public-private partnership, which makes self-sufficiency in rice and economic prosperity a reality in West Africa.

In addition, the Rice Miller Business Academy specifically hopes to improve the capacity of rice companies as they tackle some of their most pressing issues by improving operations so that mills are more competitive at producing quality rice.

The program is also envisioned to develop commercially sensible farmer services to source a consistently better-quality paddy.

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