Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 03/2011

West African Experience with the World Rice Crisis, 2007– 2008

Jenny Aker, Steven Block, Vijaya Ramachandran, Peter Timmer

February 2011

Center for Global Development


Rice production in Africa has tended to be low-yielding, geographically dispersed, and uncompetitive against low-cost Asian imports, even when protected by high freight costs and substantial trade barriers. Skyrocketing prices in world markets in 2007¬–08 were a shock to African consumers, producers, and governments alike. When international rice prices were relatively low, rice imports did not pose economic or political problems for West African governments. Extremely expensive imports reverse that equation. This paper addresses the response to that reversal first by presenting a historical review of trends in the West African rice sector and, second, by assessing the effect of world rice prices on domestic prices, primarily at the consumer level.