Multinational NERICA rice distribution project: Towards sustainable agriculture


Every year, Africa imports one third of global rice production, with West Africa alone importing nearly 20% (5.2 million tonnes). By 2020, if domestic production continues to be outstripped by growing demand, Africa will need an extra 17 million tonnes of husked rice, costing several billion in already rare foreign exchange. Any increase in the price of rice on the international market will have a negative impact on food security, particularly for poor households.

Increasing production of African rice is, then, another strategy for reducing poverty and food insecurity, in West Africa in particular, where rice is the basic foodstuff whose cultivation is showing the fastest increase.

In 2005, seven countries of West Africa – Nigeria, Mali, Sierra Leone, Benin, Ghana, Guinea and the Gambia – sought assistance from the Bank to strengthen their food security at regional level, through financing dissemination of new technology and sharing knowledge about the new varieties of NERICA (New Rice for Africa) rice.

Key facts and figures

  • Approval: 2005
  • Funding: US $34 million
  • Region: West Africa (Nigeria, Mali, Sierra Leone, Benin, Ghana, Guinea and the Gambia).
  • Beneficiaries: 241,000 families 


In the seven countries of West Africa involved in this project:

  • To improve food security and reduce poverty for farming households.
  • To increase national rice production with a view to reducing imports. 


  • Food security strengthened through better yield resistance to dry spells because NERICA rice varieties mature more quickly and are much more weed-resistant; varieties with a protein content 25% higher than the average for other varieties of rice on the international market.
  • Level of poverty reduced for 241,000 families, whose incomes will be tripled thanks to improved yields from Nerica rice (2,500 kg/ha, against 800 kg/ha for traditional rice).
  • Savings in foreign currency spending and increased revenues from exports in rice and its seeds between regional member countries and with other countries.


Mathieu Aïmontche, 45, farmer, Village of Lélé, Benin

"The population in the towns is increasing and so is demand, which makes NERICA rice a success … With yields 3 times higher yield on average, this project has meant I could buy a motorcycle, it has contributed to household expenses and helped me build a house."