The participants concluded that since issues like inconsistent tariffs and cross-border safety were common,but could not be solved by national bodies alone, a regional body would be better placed to address them. This was agreed after countries present presented their best practices, lessons and challenges.6 April 2016: An African Rice Advocacy Platform (ARAP) has been formed at a Policy Advocacy Platform meeting held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
The initiative was facilitated by The John A. Kufuor Foundation, the responsible institution for providing enabling policy environment for rice sector development under the ongoing Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) project. Participants who met to share lessons on advocacy were drawn from four countries, namely, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Tanzania. They comprised representatives of the value chain associations in the four countries: the Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB), Nigeria Rice Policy Advocacy Platform (NiRPAP), Rice Council of Tanzania (RCT), and Comite Inter professionale du riz du Burkina(CIR-B), as well as the Burkinabe Agriculture Sector Advocacy Group (CAPSR).
An interim executive committee has been constituted with Ghana as the chair, Tanzania as vice chair. Nigeria and Burkina Faso took the positions of secretary and treasurer respectively. The committee has the mandate to register ARAP, draft a constitution, and put in place systems to support the smooth running of the new continental organization. The interim committee would also recruit members who are all expected to participate in the validation and election of substantive leaders at the end of 2016.
CARI is funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the German Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Economic Development (BMZ) and is implemented by the John A. Kufuor Foundation, German Development Cooperation (GIZ), Technoserve (TNS) and Kilimo Trust (KT) in the four African countries The objective of the project is to alleviate the poverty of small-scale rice farmers by increasing their production and, thereby, increase their earnings through integration into competitive and sustain nable business models. Other components of the project seeks to support the quality and quantity of paddy rice produced, efficiency in processing and marketing, financial services for value chain actors and an enabling policy environment for the rice sector.