Japan has pledged to help Africa double its rice production by the year 2030 at a conference being attended by African leaders in the Japanese city of Yokohama.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad), Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japanese technology and innovation would play a key role in achieving this goal.
The plan is to help the continent produce 50 million tonnes in 11 years’ time.
The Africa Development Bank (AfDB) has supported the initiative.
“In spite of all the gains made in agriculture, we are not winning the global war against hunger. We must all arise collectively and end global hunger. To do that, we must end hunger in Africa. Hunger diminishes our humanity,” AFDB President Akinwumi Adesina said.
According to the UN’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 report, Africa has more than 250 people went hungry last year.
As part of a move to improve agricultural productivity, Japan in partnership with the AfDB, hopes to help shift the mind set of smallholder African farmers from producing to eat to producing to sell.
Nigeria - Africa's most-populous nation - has been trying to boost rice production since 2015, after President Muhammadu Buhari blocked the importation of rice.
But the policy has been criticised for not taking the low capacity of local farmers into consideration – and the policy has led to tonnes of smuggled coming in mainly from neighbouring Benin.