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Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is seeking the support of Japan and other rice-producing countries to help double rice output in Africa by 2018, saying sustainable production of the grain would ease hunger and poverty in the continent.

Annan, a native of Ghana and chairman of the board of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, told an international network backing the plan to double rice output during a meeting in Tokyo this month that consumption of the grain in Africa is “growing faster than that of any other major staple food,” but the continent “has been unable to keep up with this demand.”

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