Rice, a staple cereal of Cameroonian households second only to corn, may eventually return in huge quantities and quality to the plates with the implementation of the Rice Value Chain Development Project (RVCDP).
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gabriel Mbairobe, launched the ambitious FCFA 122 billion project to boost production and transform livelihoods on September 13.
The project piloted in the Northwest region will be implemented in the Northwest (Ndop Plain, Mbonso Plain, Bafut Tigoh Valley), West (Bagourain and Santchou), and Far North (Maga Basin) for the next five years.
In 2018, Cameroon imported 561,000 tons of rice, and in 2019, the importation jumped by 59.4 percent. The demand for locally produced rice keeps soaring and does not meet the local production, which is insufficient.
To reverse the import trend and meet local demand, the rice project envisages producing 750,000 tons of rice by 2030. To increase rice production from the present level of 4.5 tons per hectare to 6 tons per hectare, the project would have to strengthen links to markets and foster an enabling policy and institutional environment, among other things.
It is expected that 230,000 jobs will be created, especially for women and youth, and boost the production of smallholder farmers.
According to Khan Javed, Islamic Development Bank Regional Operations Team Leader, this is the biggest project in the rice sector in Cameroon, with the IsDB contributing 79 million euros.
“The project opens opportunities for the country and for other member countries to learn from the implementation and benefits for women and youth. If implemented well in five years, there would be more rice to eat,” the IsDB Regional Operations Team Leader stated.
Stressing that rice is the second cereal after corn, which is consumed and contributes to food security, Gabriel Mbairobe, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, thanked financial partners, IsDB, Kuwait Fund, OPEC Fund, Saudi Fund, and Abu Dhabi Fund for their contribution to Cameroon’s vision in the agriculture sector.
The Minister said the project would contribute not only to rice production but also to the mechanization of agriculture, as farmers would benefit from training, equipment, and social amenities to be provided in rural areas, such as health centers, schools, warehouses, and water points.
“The project is a nursery for the new generation of agricultural entrepreneurs whose projects would be funded. This is a holistic project that would contribute to increasing irrigated land for rice cultivation by about 7000 hectares and equip the farmers for the take-off of rice production, which would increase income and ameliorate livelihoods,” the Minister stated.