The origin of the African Rice Exchange (ARE) dates back to 2014. In October, 4 farmer leaders of West Africa and 3 staff members of VECO participated in the International Rice Conference held in Bangkok and broadly exchanged with rice producers and actors in Thailand. This was such a fruitful experience that the return of the team gave birth to the idea of organizing an exchange visit at the level of Africa with this main thread: business models for rice processing and commercialization. It is obvious that during the trip, the technical and production aspects of rice producing were important; but the main intention of the visit was to spread a broad and rich vision among the participants relating to the different inter-linked business models in the white rice and parboiled rice sectors as a source of inspiration for their work.
So, in August, 8 farmers and staff from VECO East Africa and VECO Congo got on a plane to Dakar where the exchange was to start. They were joined by staff from VECO West Africa (Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso). A participant from TRIAS Burkina Faso also joined. The team was completed with Jan Aertsen and Christ Vansteenkiste form Vredeseilanden in Belgium. Together they took off for a journey of about 3300 km over 3 countries in 10 days, traveling from Dakar to Saint-Louis, to Anambe, to Segou, to Bama and Douna, taking a rest in Bobo Dioulasso to finally end in Ouagadougou.