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Africa to expand rice production area by half to become global leader


Dr Robert S Zeigler, IRRI

etween 2014 and 2031, Africa will expand its rice production area by almost 50 percent to become a global leader, according to analysis on the global rice production and demand according to IHS Inc the leading global source of critical information and insight. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, IHS employs approximately 8000 people in 31 countries around the world. Key findings of new IHS analysis: 1) Africa’s rapid expansion of areas for rice production will be the fastest globally in percentage terms 2) Asian demand, mainly from China, is driving a majority of the growth in rice consumption during 2014/15 3) However, Africa’s rice import demand is driving much of the world’s long-term import growth 4) With a lower Indian rice production estimate due to issues relating to a later monsoon, India is forecast to lose its spot as top exporter in 2014/15 to Thailand

Africa out-paces the rest

Africa’s rapid expansion of areas for rice production will be the fastest globally, in percentage terms. Across sub-Saharan Africa, the development of the agriculture sector is viewed by many countries as a way to: Diversify their economies away from excessive dependence on the mining sub-sector; increase employment prospects and enhance poverty reduction. “Cote d’Ivoire plans to spend US$4 billion on agriculture development in order to improve crop yields and, in four years, become a rice exporter,” said Karanta Kalley, chief economist for Africa at IHS.

“The Government of Burundi and IRRI share the same vision: to provide sustainable methods of growing rice to improve the well-being of rice producers and consumers, to reduce poverty and preserve the environment”

The Ebola question mark

However, economic development, especially in West Africa, has a question mark hanging over it. “Right now, the question on everyone’s mind is what the impact of Ebola will be on the economic growth of sub-Saharan Africa,” Kalley said. IHS expects real gross domestic product (GDP) growth to be curbed significantly for 2014 in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia as a result of the ongoing Ebola outbreak. The IHS real GDP growth rate forecasts have been cut between one-half and nine-tenths of previous forecasts, with Sierra Leone’s economy projected to have the highest rate of growth at 3.1 percent followed Guinea at 2.0 percent. IHS foresees only a marginal real economic growth rate of 0.8 percent for Liberia’s economy. The spread of Ebola is still a concern for Nigeria, the region’s economic and population giant. “Public awareness and facilities in Lagos are better than in the Sierra Leone-Guinea-Liberia triangle, so the chances are fairly good that Nigeria can restrict its outbreak,” Kalley said. “Although agriculture has dropped from 35 percent of the Nigerian economy to 22 percent due to the recent data criteria change, prospects for Nigeria’s real economic growth for the rest of 2014 are bright.” Asian demand drives global rice Table 1: Top global rice exporters (in thousand tonnes) growth in 2014/15; Africa drives 2013/14 2014/15 long-term growth World rice demand for 2014/15 is Thailand 9000 10,041 forecast to rise to 478 million tonnes, India 10,000 8388 a 4.4-million-tonne increase from the Vietnam 6500 6614 previous year. For 2015/16, world rice Pakistan 3900 4055 demand is expected to increase by 4.5 United States 3011 3462 million tonnes, to 483 million tonnes. “Asian demand, mainly from China,

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