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REGIONAL WORKSHOP ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF RICE IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

From May 26 to May 27 2014, a regional workshop was held on rice value chain development at the Venus Hotel in Kinshasa, Congo, under the auspices of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and organized jointly with the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), USAID, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bralima Foundation, EUCORD, Winrock International, Batide and EUCORD.

Participants from DRC and other African countries took part in this workshop whose objectives were: (a) to review the current status of rice value chain projects; (b) identification of key constraints and opportunities; (c) the formulation of recommendations for policy makers on the sustainable development of rice value chains. The workshop was divided into two main sessions, namely: (1) review of the current situation of rice development projects in the sub-region; and (2) evolution, current state and prospects of rice development in the DRC.

Representatives from VECO, MJOKERA, INERA, SASSA, CILEU, and Bralima- EUCORD made presentations on various strategies that can be used to boost rice production in the DRC, production trends and prospects of rice, and the contribution of the project CATALIST rice development in the provinces of North and South Kivu. Representatives from SNSA described the strategy that the government has put in place with the help of some donors to increase local rice production.

Several recommendations were made to the Congolese government, development partners and industries to improve the development of rice production. Recommendations to the government included: the need to provide technical support to all rice value chain actors, installation of storage, packaging and processing facilities in partnership with private operators, and support to seed production activities and training of seed producers. Government involvement in the efforts to promote rice development through rice value chains is important and requires implementation of a national strategy for rice development.

For the partners, it is recommended that they seek to strengthen the capacities of different value chain actors through training and internships and to support the structuring of all value chain actors by sub-sector and by profession, following the example of West African countries. The industries are recommended to promote local rice production by sourcing local raw materials and contribute actively to the management of smallholder producers around large production units. With the cooperation among the government, partners and industries, Congo can meet its domestic deficit and establish additional rice development hubs.

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