Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire — Second Biennial WARDA/National Experts Committee Meeting On 20 and 21 March 2000, WARDA Management hosted the second Biennial Meeting of the WARDA/ National Experts Committee at its Headquarters at M’bé, Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire. The purpose of this statutory meeting is to provide a regular forum for interaction between WARDA and its partners in the national agricultural research systems (NARS). This is particularly important as the starting point (that is, at the country level) in a multilevel stakeholder consultation process.
The National Experts Committee (NEC) comprises the Directors of the NARS of WARDA’s member states. The Second WARDA/ NEC Meeting was attended by representatives from 15 of the countries that are members of the Association: Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Cameroon and Togo were absent. WARDA’s Board of Trustees was represented by Dr Diamandé Mamadou, Chairman of the Board Program Committee.
The participants were presented with updates from WARDA on the following issues.
- WARDA’s recent External Program and Management Review
- Evolution and progress of WARDA’s research program since the last meeting in January 1998
- Elements for a Green Revolution in rice for West and Central Africa
- Status of the new Regional Rice Research Network for West and Central Africa (ROCARIZ), co-sponsored by WARDA and the West and Central African Council for Research and Development (WECARD/CORAF)
- Progress in the development of WARDA=s Strategic Plan for 2001-2010
- Ongoing discussion on the vision and strategy for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR); WARDA is one of the 16 Centers supported by the Group
- Assessment of WARDA/NARS collaborative projects
- Upcoming events in the WARDA calendar.
The Committee was also asked for its assistance and advice in nominating candidates for WARDA’s Board of Trustees; to set the terms and conditions of recruitment of the Coordinator position for ROCARIZ; and, to discuss member states’ financial contributions to the Association.
WARDA’s Strategic Plan 2001-2010
A crucial issue for discussion was the ongoing development of WARDA’s strategy for the next 10 years. Progress to date—the result of brainstorming and careful analysis—was presented in the form of an outline of the proposed contents, with annotations indicating the direction of thinking to date. A major factor in the strategy, however, is priority-setting, and this forum provided WARDA with the opportunity to solicit feedback from the heads of national research institutes of its mandate area, who constitute WARDA’s primary partners. WARDA is developing a questionnaire to reassess the major constraints to improved rice production in the subregion. Participants were asked to solicit detailed responses from their colleagues and other contacts. WARDA’s Strategy will reflect elements of the SPAAR/FARA Vision on African Agricultural Research, the WECARD/CORAF Strategic Plan, and the CGIAR Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Conclusions and recommendations
At the end of the two-day meeting, rapporteurs compiled a list of conclusions and recommendations, including the following.
- In the reconfiguration of the CGIAR Centers with respect to the ongoing dialog on the CGIAR 2010 Vision, WARDA’s unique context as a regional Association by constitution should be maintained.
- The Committee noted the Outline Strategic Plan presented, and mandated their ROCARIZ Task Force members to deliver feedback to WARDA at the forthcoming First Regional Rice Research Review (10-13 April 2000). They also requested WARDA to submit the first full draft of the Strategic Plan to the NEC members, after it has been reviewed by the WARDA Board of Trustees in June 2000.
- For the nomination of Member State candidates to the WARDA Board, the Committee recognized the need to find competent candidates; recommended that candidates should also be sought from outside of the traditional NARS themselves; and recommended that the WARDA Council of Ministers allow the Board itself to identify potential candidates from within the subregion.
- For the recruitment of the ROCARIZ Coordinator, the Committee recommended that the position be a WARDA Associate Principal Staff, subject to the availability of funds for such, otherwise recruitment should be as a WARDA Visiting Scientist. The Committee further mandated WARDA and WECARD/CORAF to seek funding for the Coordinator position. It was decided that the Coordinator should report to the WARDA Deputy Director General for Programs, to WACARD/CORAF at its annual meeting, and periodically to the NEC (or WECARD/ CORAF Executive Committee).
- The NEC also stated that the Steering Committee of ROCARIZ should include at least one non-research person (e.g. someone from a development agency).
- On the issue of WARDA/NARS collaborative projects, the Committee recommended that WARDA explore more opportunities for group and postgraduate-degree training, and that NARS should exchange their annual work plans for rice research with and through WARDA, and their overall agricultural research work plans under the umbrella of WECARD/CORAF.
- On the issue of member states’ contributions to WARDA’s budget, the NEC recognized that these contributions are essential as a leverage for other donor funding; they agreed that NARS should encourage their governments to include their contributions in the national budgets; and they urged the Director General of WARDA to continue his program of visits to member states.