MoU Signed to Strengthen Cooperation in Developing West African Rice Value Chains

MoU Signed to Strengthen Cooperation in Developing West African Rice Value Chains

Grow Africa has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI), the German Development Agency (GiZ), and the John A. Kufuor Foundation (JAKF) to support the development of a stronger rice sector in West Africa through improved coordination of efforts.

Grow Africa has been working to strengthen rice value chains in West Africa by facilitating targeted, inclusive investments and value chain coordination since 2014, due to the high potential of the sector for food security, farmer livelihoods, job creation, and savings in import costs. Rice is the largest source of food calories in West Africa, with consumption increasing rapidly due to population growth, urbanization and changes in eating habits. At the Grow Africa Investment Forum 2016, Grow Africa led a working session to identify priority issues and opportunities that require cross-value chain and cross-sector collaboration to address. This resulted in a call to action to develop strong national value chain platforms to drive action in these areas, and to interface with government and other stakeholder groups to achieve progress.

By committing to closer coordination and collaboration in these efforts with CARI, GiZ, and JAKF, Grow Africa will be able to multiply its impact, while ensuring improved alignment of efforts in this sector – for example, in the development of national and regional rice platforms.

CARI was established in 2013 with the leadership of GiZ and regional governments to improve the livelihoods of rice farmers by improving the competitiveness of domestic rice production to meet the growing regional demand. The initiative specifically focuses on activities to improve productivity and quality of paddy rice, improve value chain efficiency, create a more enabling policy environment, and facilitate access to finance across the value chain. The initiative is intended to reach 120,000 farmers, of whom 30% are women, across Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, and Burkina Faso. It is funded by the German government, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a consortium of public and private sector partners, who either contribute to CARI’s matching grant facility or provide capacity building and training. CARI implements its mandate in partnership with the John A. Kufuor Foundation, TechnoServe, and Kilimo Trust. The first phase of CARI runs from 2013 to 2017.

The partnership will benefit from the combined expertise and strengths of the partners in developing the region’s rice sector. Grow Africa will contribute insights, access, and information relating to the private sector and its involvement in the value chain. Grow Africa will benefit from the technical and managerial expertise in the rice value chain brought by CARI and GiZ, while also benefiting from the depth of policy advocacy experience of the JAKF.

The proposed areas of cooperation outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) are:

  • Regional level information exchange, including potential creation of a regional rice platform with the participation of ECOWAS and relevant national ministers to drive coordinated progress in addressing value chain issues and opportunities.
  • National platforms to coordinate and align the private sector across the value chain, and to interface with governments on policy matters;
  • Smallholder farmer financing through facilitation of connections between cooperatives and potential investors, as well as advisory support in guiding the development of appropriate financial products.

With an initial focus on West Africa, the partnership will cover Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. Signed in April 2016, the MoU is in force until the end of 2017, at which point the partnership will be reviewed.

Cover photo courtesy of Mariusz Kluzniak

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