SARD-SC rice component launches GEM parboiler facility for women processors
Grain quality enhancer, energy efficient and durable material (GEM) rice parboiling technologies were recently installed for women rice processors in the irrigated rice ecology of northern Benin Republic. The rice component of the Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC) project in collaboration with AfricaRice and the National Institute of Agricultural Research, Benin (INRAB) donated the equipment to boost the efforts of stakeholders in the Malanville Innovation Platform (IP).
The formal launch of the Malanville IP on 9 February attracted almost 1,000 women and witnessed the presence of policy makers such as the mayors of Malanville and Gaya, Niger. The launch also provided additional policy incentive to the operationalization of the IP.
To efficiently use and manage the GEM facility, 538 women rice parboilers including 10 from Gaya in Niger, were trained on processing and adding value to locally produced rice. Over a period of two months, these women learned skills on rice parboiling and value addition as well as the management of the GEM parboiling facility.
The training alone resulted in 8 tons of quality parboiled rice which is already attracting consumers within and outside the Malanville community. As part of the IP process, 12 youths (10 male and 2 female) are learning various skills on rice processing, adding value, and operation of equipment and farming tools.
The formal opening was attended by the IITA/SARD-SC Coordinator, Chrys Akem.
He remarked that in general, the SARD-SC project has challenges in effectively addressing gender equity or the active involvement of women in project activities. The deployment of the GEM rice parboiler in the Malanville IP has fully demonstrated that pairing gender-sensitive technological innovation with institutional change can significantly bring about gender mainstreaming in agricultural productivity programs and projects.
The Malanville IP also received a milling machine and other farming equipment from AfricaRice through the Japan Emergency. One youth of the Malanville IP who was trained on the use of farming equipment indicated that with appropriate machinery, rice farming can be enjoyable and not a burden. He was encouraged to start his own rice farm.
To date, over 1,000 women households have been reached through the GEM technology and innovations in two IPs in Benin. GEM is being rolled out in combination with enhanced packaging and branding of locally produced rice to attract urban rice consuming households and also contributes to raising incomes of women and employment opportunities for youth in the rural economy. Already, Nasarawa in Nigeria and Gaya in Niger in consultation with their respective research institutes, have requested the GEM technology and innovation and these will be deployed in Nigeria and later in Niger.