Rice (Oryza sativa L.) cultivation in Africa: constraints

African countries are heavily dependent on import of rice to fulfill their requirement of primary source of food. In fact rice is the major staple food and a mainstay for African and Latin American people. West Africa has largest rice area and it accounts for 3.7 million hectare. In Africa rice is produced under four major ecosystems:

Irrigated ecosystem
About 25% of the total rice in Africa is produced in this ecosystem. But this irrigation equipped land is concentrated to Sudan, Morocco and Egypt in North Africa and few areas of South Africa with Madagascar. In Sub-Saharan Africa it limits to only 4% of irrigated agricultural land.
The major constraint of this ecosystem is toxicity, acidity and deficiency of nutrients in soil. Also, biological constraints like weeds, diseases and insects like stem borers; grain suckers, etc. cause further loss in production.

Rainfed upland ecosystem
This ecosystem is most extensive in rice production and includes major part of West Africa. It includes countries like Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The major constraint of this ecosystem is inadequate rain and deficiency of various nutrients like sulphur (S), phosphorus (P), nitrogen (N), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), etc.

Rainfed lowland ecosystem
Most of the rainfed lowland ecosystem prevails in West African region. Major constraint involves poor drainage facility which results in toxicity of soils. Drought and flood stresses are common in rainfed lowland ecosystems due to variability in rainfall.

Mangrove swamp ecosystem
West African coast has mangrove swamp ecosystem of which around 16% is developed for cultivation. This area has high salinity content due to swamps and major constraint in developing these swamps into cultivable land is high cost involved.

Thus, future research needs to develop an efficient and effective cropping system which is rice based and improves soil fertility with controlling diseases and pests.

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