Supporting the African rice value chain

Project description

Title: Supporting the African rice value chain (Competitive African Rice Initiative, CARI)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Various countries in Africa; based in Nigeria
Lead executing agencies: Agricultural ministries in Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Tanzania
Overall term:
2013 to 2017


Rice is one of the most important basic foodstuffs in Africa. While demand has risen sharply in the last few years, local producers are only benefitting from this to a limited extent. Most of the rice consumed is imported due to lower prices, instead of meeting rising demand through domestic rice production and distribution.

There is scope for increasing yields, but production is already very intensive and earns only meagre incomes for rice farmers. Productivity also remains low in irrigation areas. There is only limited use of equipment and cultivation techniques are inadequate. The losses that occur due to limited storage capacity and insufficient processing technology represent a further challenge. Much of the rice that is produced is too expensive, of poor quality and uncompetitive in the growing urban markets compared with imported rice. So far, there has been no coordinated support for financially sustainable business models in collaboration with any private-sector stakeholders.

All the rice-producing countries in the region have set themselves the goal of increasing domestic rice production so that they can avoid being dependent on imports in the long term. This is, however, an unachievable aim with public investment alone. In countries that have greater public resources, and in particular Nigeria, such resources have not yet been systematically used to develop and support rice production. Most of the rural population in the rice-growing areas lives near or below the poverty line of US$2 a day. The rice value chain is largely inefficient and only developing in very selected areas. The agricultural economy is therefore growing at a slow rate overall.


120,000 low-income rice farmers in Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Tanzania – of whom at least 30 per cent are women – become more competitive and enjoy greater access to markets. Incomes increase significantly.


In order to assist the rice farmers, the programme is supporting both a sustainable increase in the intensity of small-scale rice cultivation and the development of inclusive business models. Such models improve access to equipment and services, and create a more stable market for produce. Consumers are thereby able to purchase rice more efficiently and enjoy better quality rice. The programme is applying various business models so as to achieve widespread increases in income.

At the same time, the programme is also supporting vegetable cultivation as a way of ensuring product diversity. This leads to additional improvements in food security, incomes and liquidity, and means that producers are less exposed to the risks of product failure. CARI’s core functions also include delivering training and education via farmers’ business schools, providing training and communication materials, and developing innovative solutions for information and communication technology (ICT).

CARI works in close cooperation with a broad-based consortium of stakeholders from the public and private sectors, research institutions, national and international foundations, non-governmental organisations and development cooperation organisations.

Most importantly, the programme is offering matching grants to organisations and businesses that use their own resources for the activities planned by CARI. The matching grant funds are financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The programme is managed from a regional coordination office based in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.