, DAKAR, Jan 12, 2011 – Senegal now produces at least half of the rice it consumes, director general of the Senegal River Valley National Development Agency, Mamoudou Deme was quoted as saying in state media Wednesday.
"We rarely reached 150,000 tonnes of paddy rice (unmilled) annually. Today we are at least at 350,000 tonnes," the director told pro-government newspaper Le Soleil.
"At least half of what we consume in rice is produced in Senegal and 80 percent comes from the Senegal River Valley," in the north of the country, said Deme.
In 2008 Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade launched the Grand Agricultural Offensive for Food Security (GOANA) seeking to double rice production and increase maize and manioc yield in the west African nation.
The initiative\’s figures are however challenged by producer\’s organisations and agricultural specialists.
Senegal remains a huge consumer of rice imported from Asia which is a staple of traditional meals such as "ceebu jen" (rice with fish).
Deme lauded assistance provided by "French cooperation, the Arab countries, South Korea and Japan who injected billions (of CFA Francs) into the valley for a quantitative and qualitative improvement of production," according to the Senegalese Press Agency (APS).