U.S. Rice is Food for Progress in West Africa

Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS logo
Win-win in West Africa
Jul 17, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC -- This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made the first of two large purchases of rice for an upcoming USDA Food for Progress project in West Africa.  The sale of just over 25,000 MT of milled rice marked a major step forward in a project that has been in the works for several months.  The total amount earmarked for this project is 63,000 MT, with the remainder expected to be purchased near the end of 2020.

According to the USDA, Food for Progress has two principal objectives: to improve agricultural productivity and to expand trade of agricultural products.  Past Food for Progress projects have trained farmers in animal and plant health, improved farming methods, developed road and utility systems, established producer cooperatives, provided microcredit, and developed agricultural value chains.  This particular project involves the monetization of rice to benefit the cashew industry in several nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“This is a classic win-win situation that is the underpinning of the Food for Progress program,” said USA Rice President and CEO Betsy Ward.  “The U.S. rice industry makes a large sale, the people of West Africa receive life-saving, nutritious food, and a new industry in the country is supported, helping everyone in the long run.  We’re proud to be a part of something like this.”

Dawson Williams, commodity program specialist in the USDA International Food Assistance Division, has been managing the project since its inception.  Of this week’s purchase, Williams explained: “We are grateful that USDA’s Kansas City Commodity Office was able to purchase the long grain rice to complete this first tranche of a two-part monetization sale.  Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture’s (CNFA) work in West Africa will help improve the nursery, crop management, marketing, and input systems for the cashew industry in five ECOWAS member countries.”

"This is one of, if not the largest, food aid projects utilizing U.S. rice," said Ward.  “Following this week’s sale, food aid purchases across USDA and USAID programs thus far in FY2020 have surpassed the total for all of FY2019.  With two months and multiple tenders to go, FY2020 looks to be a banner year for both fortified and regular milled rice in international food assistance programs.”