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In Senegal, a Return to Homegrown Rice

Rice has deep historical significance in Senegal, having been a part of its culinary culture for centuries. With the advent of colonialism, however, farming was diverted to more lucrative crops, resulting in local rice production plummeting. Currently, the country produces only about half of the rice that it consumes, but new efforts are reviving its cultivation, and the results are delicious. AfricaRice, is a Pan-African research organization that began operations in 1971 to help meet the rising consumption of rice in West Africa, with an emphasis on increasing self-sufficiency. It now has 28 member countries across the continent, including Madagascar, who participate in research exchanges and whose farmers are trained by AfricaRice’s experts. Baboucarr Manneh, an irrigated-rice breeder and the regional representative of the center, oversees activities in seven countries in the Sahel region: Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. He attributes the popularity of Asian rice over African rice, from a cultivator perspective, to the centuries of money, experimentation and attention invested into its development.