The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) Council of Ministers (CoM) unanimously approved the application of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to join the Center, at the 30th CoM held in Kampala, Uganda, 22-23 August 2016, held under the chairmanship of Hon. Ssempijja Vincent Bamulangaki (MP), Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of the Republic of Uganda. This brings the number of AfricaRice member States to 26.
“We look forward to the scientific support and technical expertise that AfricaRice offers to its member countries, which will help Ethiopia achieve its rice sector development targets,” stated Hon. Wondirad Mandefro, State Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources of Ethiopia.
AfricaRice is a CGIAR Research Center as well as an intergovernmental association of African member states. Its highest oversight body is the CoM. The Center plays a key role in providing technical support and advising its member states on critical rice production and marketing issues.
Fourteen member states were present at the 30th CoM. Ethiopia and South Africa attended as observers. In addition, partner organizations, notably the African Union Commission (AUC), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), attended as special guests.
In his welcome speech, the 30th CoM Chair said that “AfricaRice innovations have become an engine for economic growth in Africa.” He underlined the tremendous support received by Uganda from AfricaRice in rice research and development, capacity development and agricultural machinery, which far outweighs the country’s membership contribution to AfricaRice.
AfricaRice Board Chair, Prof. Eric Tollens, speaking during the official opening ceremony, reiterated that for every dollar the member states contribute to AfricaRice, they get a return value of 10-20 dollars in technical and project support. He made a special appeal to the member states to pay their membership fees to improve the Center’s financial position in view of funding constraints currently affecting all CGIAR Research Centers.
“Rice is one of the regional value chains with a huge potential to contribute to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)-Malabo aspirations, if necessary investments are correctly made,” stated H.E. Mrs. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, at the CoM inauguration ceremony. “It is, therefore our moral duty to stand squarely around AfricaRice to mobilize resources and capacitate it.”
The CoM in its proceedings examined the detailed report presented by the AfricaRice Director General, Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, covering a new strategic orientation, advocacy efforts, research-for-development initiatives, support to member countries, rice hubs and innovation platforms, capacity development efforts, strategic partnerships and the CGIAR System Organization.
The Director General’s presentation also focused on the Center’s financial situation, resource mobilization efforts, audit and risk management and the status of the Center’s return process to Côte d’Ivoire in line with the decisions of the AfricaRice CoM and Board of Trustees.
“High-level advocacy, good quality research and stronger partnership mechanisms have led to greater visibility of the Center’s relevance and enhanced dissemination of rice innovations,” Dr Roy-Macauley concluded. “However, the unstable financial situation and weak enabling policies for rice sector development are our main challenges.”
The Director General clarified that the priorities over the next couple of years will be to establish sustainable innovative financing mechanism to maintain quality activities of the Center; ensure the full operationalization of its 700-ha research station in Côte d’Ivoire and the Training Center in Senegal; strengthen research efforts to ensure increased local production of quality rice; and identify policy options to boost the rice sector.
The CoM congratulated the Director General for the comprehensive update and pledged to do everything possible to clear all arrears and regularly pay the annual dues, in particular the 2016 dues, before the end of the year.
The 30th CoM adopted the following 11 resolutions based on recommendations made by the AfricaRice National Experts Committee relating to presentations by the Director General and other senior AfricaRice scientists:
The 30th COM congratulated the Management and staff members of the Center for all the achievements. It gave a vote of thanks dedicated to the President, Government and people of Uganda for the successful hosting of the 30th COM.
Special thanks were also addressed to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire for its support to the relocation of the AfricaRice headquarters from Benin to Côte d’Ivoire. The Government and the people of Benin as well as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) received thanks for having temporarily hosted the AfricaRice headquarters for more than 11 years.
At the conclusion of the 30th CoM, the member states signed a revised constitution incorporating previous Council resolutions related to the Center’s name change, which would facilitate AfricaRice’s international business transactions. In a sub-regional rotation of the chairmanship of the CoM, the Republic of Senegal was designated as the incoming Chair.
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