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“Let us eat what we produce!” (workshop day 1)

November 22, 2011

From November 22-24 the Africa Rice Center co-organized a workshop on “Sawah” eco-technology and rice farming in sub-Saharan Africa in Kumsai, Ghana. The other organizers were Kinky University (Japan), JIRCAS (Ghana/Japan) and CSIR (Ghana). Approximately 100 scientists from mainly Nigeria, Togo, Benin and Ghana gathered to share experiences in the development of sawah systems. The SMART-IV project was represented by Dr. Abe, Mrs Houngbedji and Dr. Sander Zwart. Dr. Dembélé was involved in the sawah system development training for field technicians from Benin and Togo.

The meeting was opened by the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology of Ghana, Ms Sherry Ayittey. In her speech she addressed the importance of development of the rice sector in creating jobs and reducing rice imports. The current imports weigh heavily on the trade balance, while this money could be used for schooling or health care. Africa is importing rice while the resources water and land are abundantly available. However, developments must be sustainable while creating limited impact on the environment. She concluded by stating “Let us eat what we produce”. Africans must appreciate again the local varieties and specific tastes that African rice varieties offer, urged Minister Ayittey.

The SMART-IV project addresses the points raised by the Minister. The impact of sawah system development on water quantity and quality is analysed at various scales using hydrological modelling. Scenarios will be used to analyse the impact on the various users of water, including ecology.  At national level rice production and trade balance is analysed. These points were outlined, amongst the other highlights of the SMART-IV project, in a presentation during the first scientific session in the afternoon. The presentation is available below in the link to slideshare.com.

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