Africa produces around 60% of the rice the continent consumes, relying heavily on rice imports to fulfill the rest of the domestic demand. Over the past 10 years, the rice-agricultural area increased nearly 40%, while average yield remained stagnant.
Here we used a process-based crop simulation modeling approach combined with local weather, soil, and management datasets to evaluate the potential to increase rice production in existing cropland areas in Africa and assess cropland expansion and rice imports by year 2050 for different scenarios of yield intensification.
We find that Africa can avoid further increases in rice imports, and even reduce them, through a combination of cropland expansion following the historical trend and closure of the current exploitable yield gap by half or more. Without a substantial increase in rice yields, meeting future rice demand will require larger rice imports and/or land conversion than now.
Read the study:
Yuan S, Saito K, Van Oort PA, Van Ittersum MK, Peng S, & Grassini P (2024). Intensifying rice production to reduce imports and land conversion in Africa. Nature Communications, 15(1), 1-12.