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Rice is produced in over hundred countries throughout the World. It is estimated that more than 715 million tons of paddy is produced annually equivalent to 480 million tons of milled rice. Asian countries account for 90% of the world’s total rice production. China and India account for 50% of the rice produced in the World. 

Other major producing countries include Brazil, USA, Egypt, Nigeria and Madagascar account for 5 percent of rice produced globally. Global rice consumption has been increasing in the 2018/2019 crop-year, about 490.27 MT of rice was consumed worldwide, up from 437.18 million MT in the 2008/2009 crop year. Rice has emerged as a significant crop in SSA, the single most important source of dietary energy in West Africa, and the third most important crop across SSA. 

Local demand is growing at a rate exceeding 6% per year, with some countries like Kenya and Ethiopia reaching over 12%, faster than any other food staple in the region. Th is increase is mostly attributed to population growth 4%, improved income, and urbanization. Average annual per capita rice consumption is estimated at 40 kg in SSA, with the highest reported in Madagascar 140 kg. 

In Tanzania, per capita consumption of rice is estimated to be 25 kg. Reasonable production gains were witnessed in the last decade, attributed to both area expansion and increase in yield in some countries. However, the gap between local/regional production and demand is progressively widening, causing the region to import about 15 million tons of milled rice in 2018, and posing serious food security challenges. 

Rice is now being recognized as a strategic crop and a major component of food security and income for the region. Regional rice production meets only about 55% of demand, with the rest being met through imports, costing the region USD 5–6 billion annually, placing a considerable burden on the already struggling economies. In Tanzania, rain-fed areas, which constitute over 70% of rice areas, are not sufficiently exploited, and the country has plans to expand its irrigated areas. 

The regional gap in demand for rice could significantly be narrowed with the largest untapped land and water resources and the enormous potential for increasing yields in Tanzania to at least match that being attained in Asia. In the long run, Tanzania can potentially produce sufficient quality rice to meet the SSA/regional demands, and with potential for export to the whole continent.

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