Shen Yuan, Kazuki Saito, Pepijn A. J. van Oort, Martin K. van Ittersum, Shaobing Peng, Patricio Grassini
Nature Communications, volume15, Article number:835(2024), Published:27 January 2024
Africa produces around 60% of the rice the continent consumes, relying heavily on rice imports to fulfill the rest of the domestic demand. Over the past 10 years, the rice-agricultural area increased nearly 40%, while average yield remained stagnant. Here we used a process-based crop simulation modelling approach combined with local weather, soil, and management datasets to evaluate the potential to increase rice production on existing cropland area in Africa and assess cropland expansion and rice imports by year 2050 for different scenarios of yield intensification. We find that Africa can avoid further increases in rice imports, and even reduce them, through a combination of cropland expansion following the historical trend together with closure of the current exploitable yield gap by half or more. Without substantial increase in rice yields, meeting future rice demand will require larger rice imports and/or land conversion than now.