Free access | Review Article

Challenges and opportunities for increasing rice production in sub saharan Africa

Balamurugan P, V Balasubramanian

Published on: 27 Jun 2017 | Volume: 4, Issue: 2 | Pages: 1-10 |

Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) faces multiple problems. The main one is improving the lives of the 30% of its population that suffers from extreme poverty and food insecurity. Because of strong demand, rice area expansion in SSA is larger than for any other crop. The abundant supply of agroclimatically suitable wetlands (239 million ha) and water resources can support a large expansion in rice area and productivity. Expansion and intensification of rice cultivation in SSA will not compete with other crops in terms of land and water resources because, during the rainy season, only rice can be grown on low lying wetlands, including inland valleys. Rice is cultivated in four ecosystems of SSA: dryland (38% of the cultivated rice area), rainfed wetland (33%), deepwater and mangrove swamps (9%), and irrigated wetland (20%). Many abiotic stresses (drought, flood, and variable rainfall; extreme temperatures; salinity; acidity/alkalinity and poor soils, soil erosion, and high P fixation) and biotic constraints [weeds, blast, Rice yellow mottle virus (RYMV), and African rice gall midge limit rice production on the continent.