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The needs & opportunities for rice in Africa

Consumption of rice is rising more rapidly than any other commodity in Sub-Saharan Africa

Rice imports are soaring in Sub-Saharan Africa: already costing Sub-Saharan Africa US$ 6.4 billion/- year in 2018 (12.3 million tons in 2017). Imports into Africa are expected to almost double in the next decade and surpass Asia and become the largest rice importer in the world in 2028–2030.

A high policy priority is for the African region to reduce dependence on imported rice and be self-sufficient.

Over 230 million ha of inlands are estimated to be suitable for rice production; yet roughly less than 5%, 12 million ha, are currently being used (based on 2007 estimates).


IRRI-AFRICA has been delivering solutions in Africa for nearly 60 years.

IRRI-AFRICA is working in over 15 countries in Africa with offices in 5 countries.

IRRI-AFRICA has a mandate to support national systems across Africa and Asia, and leverages the extensive technologies and expertise globally to customize solutions for Africa in Africa.

Countries where IRRI is active


Rice has emerged as an important food staple in Burundi. Estimated land area currently being used for rice production in Burundi is about 50,000 hectares. This includes 5,000 hectares in the irrigated Imbo plain, 15,000 hectares in the non-irrigated Imbo plain, and 30,000 hectares in the Moso lowland and in high elevation marshlands. Between 1984 and 2011, rice production increased from 18,000 to 75,000 metric tons per year – a 316% increase in 27 years. In 2019, rice production in Burundi was estimated to be 120,000 metric tons. Read more


Since its introduction in 1907 in Kenya, rice has become the third most important cereal crop after maize and wheat. Due to the progressive change in eating habits of Kenyans, particularly in more urban areas, the annual consumption of rice is increasing at a rate of over 12% in the country. Moreover, the national rice consumption is estimated at 949,000 metric tons compared to an annual production of 180,000. With a projected population growth rate of 2.7% per year, the estimated annual national need can reach up to 1,290,000 tons by 2030 (National Rice Development Strategy-2, 2019-2030). Read more


Rice is one of the major food crops in Mozambique, along with maize, wheat, and sorghum. However, rice consumption has increased rapidly in recent years, from 86,000 metric tons in 1990 to 519,000 metric tons in 2010, at an annual growth rate of 8.6%. This shift in consumer preference, like other African countries, is attributed to urbanization, better income and rice’s convenience in preparation. Read more


In Tanzania, rice is the second most important food and commercial crop after maize with significant national importance as a source of employment, income, and food security for millions of rural households. The country has a rapidly growing population and a political ambition to sustain rice self-sufficiency, with a margin to export to neighboring countries in the region, through raising productivity and expanding production to areas with high potential for rice production. Read more


Progress has been made, yet there are urgent needs to accelerate and ensure sustainable and healthy rice systems.

  • Rice production increased by 103% (13.7 to 27.9 MT from 2008 to 2018) in contrast with an increase of 31% from the previous decade.
  • Yield also has increased but are still less than about half of the world average at approximately 2 tonnes/ha, while the global average is about 4.66 tonnes/ha.

Some key science-based successes of IRRI-AFRICA, AfricaRice, and many other partners include:

STRASA - Stress Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (2007 -2019)

  • Produced and distributed over 1 million tons of seeds reaching 35 million farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
  • Disseminated more than 200 rice varieties in over 18 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and 3 countries in South Asia.
  • Improved rice varieties adopted in over 3.5 million hectares in 16 Sub-Saharan African countries and 3 South Asian countries, lifting 7.2 million people from food insecurity.

Green Super Rice

  • 42 Green Super Rice varieties, were developed and made available in 11 countries in Asia and Africa covering more than 1.7 million hectares of farmland. 18 of these varieties were bred at IRRI.
  • 43 high yielding, climate resilient varieties, with good grain quality released in East and Southern Africa since 2011.

Developed flood tolerant varieties that survive 2 weeks of complete submersion

  • Doubled the yield
  • Added $700 /ha to farmers’ incomes
  • Potential to generate at least US$3 billion in returns for countries experiencing flooding in Sub-Saharan Africa in the next five years

Explore current projects

Click on the map or use the filters to get details about specific IRRI projects in Africa. The numbers on the circle represents the number of projects in that region or area.


Note: The amount shown for each country represents the total project budget, not necessarily the amount allocated solely to that country.

Transformative solutions

to achieve *food security *nutrition security *income & climate resilience through healthy rice-based food systems

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that can be addressed through rice based systems include:

Together we can do more

Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail 
Regional Director - IRRI-AFRICA


IRRI-AFRICA aligns its research programs with the needs and requests of the national systems.

We work hand in hand with national, regional and other international organizations across Africa, including governments, universities, private industry and non-profit organizations. The following are examples:


  • Ministry of Agriculture
  • Livestock Fisheries and Cooperatives
  • Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation
  • National Irrigation Authority
  • University of Nairobi
  • University of Eldoret
  • Nabwabini Environmental Health Care Intervention Programme
  • Local Development Research Institute
  • Mwea Rice Growers Multipurpose Co-op. Society Ltd 
  • Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service


  • National Agricultural Research Organization
  • National Crops Resources Research Institute
  • Makerere University


  • Ministry of Agriculture
  • Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute
  • Sokoine University of Agriculture
  • Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute
  • Agricultural Seed Agency
  • Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania
  • Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute
  • Japan International Cooperation Agency (Tanzania Office)
  • Kilimanjaro Agricultural Training Centre
  • Ministry of Water
  • Lower Moshi Irrigation Scheme
  • Dakawa Irrigators Cooperative Union (Ushirika wa Wakulima. Wadogo Wadogo Kilimo cha Umwagiliaji Dakawa/UWAWAKUDA)
  • Mwamapuli irrigation Scheme
  • Madibira
  • Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Society
  • World Vision Tanzania
  • Kilimo Trust Tanzania
  • Nafaka Kilimo


  • Ministry of Environment
  • Agriculture and Livestock
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation
  • Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research
  • Ministry of National Solidarity, Social Affairs, Human Rights and Gender
  • University of Ngozi
  • University of Burundi
  • National Office for Seed Control and Certification (Office National de Contrôle et de Certification des Semences/ONCCS)
  • Regional Society for Imbo Development (Société Régionale de Développement de l'Imbo/SRDI)
  • Organo-Mineral Fertilizers Industries (Fertilisants Organo-Minéraux Industrie/FOMI)
  • Confederation of Agricultural Producers Associations for Development (Collectif Des Association Paysannes Pour L'auto Développement/CAPAD)
  • EFAMEC (Etablissement et Fabrication Mecanique)


  • Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Institute for Agricultural Research of Mozambique
  • Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education
  • Regadio do Baixo Limpopo (RBL)
  • Hidráulica de Chókwè Empresa Pública (HICEP)
  • Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM)
  • Universidade Lúrio
  • Gapi Sociedade de Investimentos (GAPI)
  • Empresa Orizicola de Zambezia (EOZ)
  • African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership
  • Food and Agriculture Organization
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Key international partners include AfricaRice, the Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), other CGIAR centers, and more.

Read the IRRI-AFRICA Annual Report