APRA present findings at webinar on the impact of COVID-19 on the rice sector

The Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Work Stream 2 team have continued to attend events, despite the technical challenges brought by pandemic-related lockdowns.

Dawit Alemu, Ethiopia-based academic, participated on behalf of APRA at the Zoom Webinar “COVID-19 Impact and Rice Competitiveness” on 25 February 2021, organised by Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD). The webinar was designed to deliberate on (i) the impacts of COVID-19 and possible mitigation measures, and (ii) to create an opportunity for the CARD initiative and its stakeholders to have a broader picture of the impacts of COVID-19 on the rice sector development in the continent.

More than 200 participants from 40 countries from across the world engaged in the webinar, including the Minister of Rice Promotion of Côte d’Ivoire, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), AfricaRice, APRA, participants from the 32 CARD member countries, development partners, and donors.

The webinar focused on the impact of COVID-19 on the agriculture sector and rice sub-sector in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and two presentations were made followed by reflections and a question and answer session. The first presentation was on JICA’s assistance on food and nutrition with COVID-19, while the second was on APRA’s Rapid Assessments on the Impact of COVID-19 on Rice Value Chain in Africa presented by Alemu. This included an overview of APRA’s main synthesis report, as well as the round 2 country reports for Tanzania and Ethiopia.  In particular, the key timing, purpose and goals of these rapid assessments were explained to ensure timely action to address the emerging challenges related with COVID 19. Several other important issues were also discussed during these presentations, such as how regional trade can be facilitated within SSA, on systems over-reliant on international commerce, to reduce the impact of COVID-19

The sessions reflected on the need to consider specific challenges facing different countries and regions when addressing the impact of COVID-19, along with the on-going attempts  to increase competitiveness through upgrading rice value chains covering process upgrading (farming and milling), product upgrading (variety, standard, packaging), functional upgrading (vertical coordination, channel upgrading, and inter-sectoral upgrading (by-product product development).

In conclusion, it was agreed that the CARD secretariat will document the key issues identified for further discussion and the design of interventions. The APRA research outputs are expected to inform the future discussion for the design of intervention options at both country and regional levels.

Mr Tadashi Sato, JICA Vice President, emphasised the timeliness of the event during his closing remarks in order to address the challenges caused by the pandemic, and urged those attending to sustain their engagement.  

“APRA will continue its engagement activities, and inform CARD, and its member countries, on its latest research and policy findings.  Our APRA researchers also look forward to attending the next CARD general meeting, held in Abidjan next year.”

APRA researcher Dawit Alemu, speaking after the webinar

The webinar focused on many topics that will also be raised in the upcoming East Africa Rice Conference on 20-22 May, which APRA is co-convening with CARD, CABE, JICA and IRRI. For more information on this conference, click here.

Access all of the presentations from the webinar, here:

Shinjiro Amameishi, JICA. JICA’s Assistance on Food and Nutrition with COVID-19 (Increase of resilience through CARD)

Dawit Alemu, APRA. The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Rice Value Chains: Findings from Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Ernst Zippel, AfricaRice Responding to the COVID-19 crisis:CORIS rice seed delivery model.

Shuichi Asanuma, JICA. Strengthening competitiveness through better seed systems.

Matty Demont, CGIAR. Upgrading rice value chains to increase competitiveness of domestic vis à vis imported rice in Africa.

Feature photo: field workers tend CIAT’s rice plots, during the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP). Credit: ©2011CIAT.NeilPalmer