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The Possibility of a Rice Green Revolution in Large-Scale Irrigation Schemes in Sub-Saharan Africa


The importance of rice in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is increasing rapidly, as the consumption of rice is increasing and the imbalance between domestic production and consumption has been growing in SSA. Therefore, national and international attention now centers on how to increase rice production in SSA as an important component of the region’s strategies on food security. One possible strategy to achieve this goal is to take an Asian-style approach as Asia has successfully achieved a rice Green Revolution over the last several decades. This study aims to investigate the potential of SSA’s large-scale irrigation schemes for a rice Green Revolution in the region as well as the conditions for achieving the potential. For this study, we use household-level data collected in six SSA countries: Uganda, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal.


  • Green Revolution
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Food security
  • Irrigation
  • High-yielding varieties
  • Lowland rice
  • Paddy yield

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Fig. 3.1


  1. 1.

    Sakurai (2006) examines the possible constraints to lowland rain-fed rice cultivation in Côte d’Ivoire and Kijima et al. (2006, 2008, 2011) investigate the potential of upland NERICA cultivation in Uganda. However, none of them are about rice cultivation in large- or medium-scale irrigation.

  2. 2.

    The sampling in the Doho rice scheme is stratified by irrigation blocks. The other studies use simple random sampling.

  3. 3.

    See Nakano (2009) for more details.

  4. 4.

    In Doho, farmers facing main canals are classified into the group of good access and, otherwise, the group of not-good access. In Chokwe, those who claimed “receiving enough water in 2007” were classified into the group of good access.

  5. 5.

    The first-generation MVs (MV1s) were released from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s and were more fertilizer-responsive than traditional varieties. Yet, they were susceptible to pests and diseases. The second-generation MVs (MV2s), which were designed to ensure stable yields by incorporating multiple pest and disease resistance, were released from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. The third-generation MVs (MV3), which incorporated better grain quality and stronger host-plant resistance, were released from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s.

  6. 6.

    The major rice varieties cultivated in DRS were modern varieties introduced by a Chinese aid agency in the 1970s and crossed with local varieties in the nearby experiment station. Although we cannot be decisive, we may be able to categorize them into MV1 or MV2.

  7. 7.

    In 1994, three improved varieties, Sahel 108, Sahel 201, and Sahel 202, were released by Africa Rice and its national partners after screening more than 1,000 lines of Oryza sativa germplasm accessions imported from Asia (Africa Rice Center 2006). The Asian parents of the short-duration improved variety Sahel 108 are IR305, Babawee, and IR36, which came from IRRI. The medium-duration varieties Sahel 201 and 202 were developed using lines that originated, respectively, from Sri Lanka and IITA. The Sahel varieties rapidly gained producers’ acceptance in Senegal and Mauritania as they replaced earlier introduced varieties. Currently, these three varieties occupy about 70% of irrigated rice area in the Senegal River Valley in both Senegal and Mauritania (Africa Rice Center 2006).

  8. 8.

    Chemical fertilizer reported in Table 3.3 consists of urea and other kinds of complete fertilizer packages.

  9. 9.

    Note that these are the real wages in terms of paddy. If we compare wages in US$ at official exchange rates of the survey years, they become 2.94 (Doho, Uganda), 1.73 (Chokwe, Mozambique), 1.90 (Burkina Faso), 1.90 (Mali), 1.89 (Niger). The wages in Sahelian countries become higher than Chokwe, Mozambique partly due their higher paddy prices (thus, resulting in lower real wages) and partly due to overvaluation of CFA franc. Doho’s wage is still much higher than the other countries presumably due to the fact that wage labor is used mainly in labor intensive works such as transplanting and harvesting and the peak labor season is overlapped in short period among the farmers as irrigation rotation is not well coordinated.

  10. 10.

    Bagre’s low income (US$166) stems from the much lower paddy price in local markets (92 Fcfa) than the other schemes (128 and 119 Fcfa). Meanwhile, excessively high income in Mali (US$1,000 and $983) is due to the high paddy price (208 and 192 Fcfa).

  11. 11.

    During field interviews, we encountered several farmers who claimed that they could not hire labor since they did not have cash on hand.

  12. 12.

    Although tractor power can be replaced by human labor, not all kinds of human labor activities can be replaced by tractor power (for example, crop establishment and harvesting). Thus, a labor shortage can still be a constraint.

  13. 13.

    Large scale refers to an irrigated area of 1,000 ha and more, whereas small scale refers to an area of more than 1 ha but less than 100 ha in the report.


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Nakano, Y., Bamba, I., Diagne, A., Otsuka, K., Kajisa, K. (2013). The Possibility of a Rice Green Revolution in Large-Scale Irrigation Schemes in Sub-Saharan Africa. In: Otsuka, K., Larson, D. (eds) An African Green Revolution. Springer, Dordrecht.

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