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NARS Experts Endorse Programmatic Alignment of CGIAR Centers Based in Sub-Saharan Africa

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire —  Experts from the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS)—who participated in the Fourth Biennial Regional Consultative Meeting of the Africa Rice Center (WARDA)—endorsed the programmatic alignment of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research(CGIAR) Centers based in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) as the best option, rather than merging them.

The Africa Rice Center is one of the four CGIAR Centers located in SSA, but almost all the 15 CGIAR Centers have regional/outreach offices across the continent.
As an autonomous intergovernmental research association of African member states, the Africa Rice Center is unique among the CGIAR Centers. Its distinct organizational model gives a strong feeling of ownership by its member states, making its activities highly relevant to the region.
The NARS experts also strongly urged the Côte d’Ivoire authorities to guarantee the security of the Center’s return to its Headquarters in Bouake and requested the Chairman of the Council of Ministers—the Center’s highest oversight body—to formally announce the clearly intended return.
The other important recommendations of the NARS experts in this meeting include:
  • A strong appeal to member States to regularly pay their contributions to the Center, urging them to send at least a token proportion of their annual dues to allow their continued participation in the Center’s fora and capacity-building activities.

  • The Center’s assistance to facilitate member countries to put in place biosafety protocols and legislation with particular reference to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so that the countries can make informed decisions regarding biotechnology and its products.

  • The Center’s support to national programs to find ways of preventing dumping of agricultural products in the region while complying with existing international agreements 

  • Call to African leaders and policy-makers to create an enabling environment for the competitiveness of locally produced rice. This would involve an improvement in processing and handling, functional research and extension systems, facilitation of regional and national market development.

  • The Center’s support to improve the NARS capacity to develop bankable research projects.

  • Further research on the potential effects of heavy metal contamination in rock phosphate fertilizer application.

  • Promotion of the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) dissemination along with studies on the associated environmental implications.

The Fourth Biennial Meeting was held, 24 – 26 June 2004, in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire under the chairmanship of Prof. Hamidou Boly, Director General of the Institut de l’environnement et des recherches agricoles (INERA), the national program of Burkina Faso.

Explaining the significance of this meeting, Director General Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze said, “This is the first time we have active participation not only from West Africa – our traditional and long-standing partners – but also from Central and Eastern Africa.”
Participants included NARS experts from eight West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal). Experts from Eastern and Central African NARS (DR Congo, Ethiopia and Uganda) and the international NGO Sasakawa-Global 2000 attended as observers.
The meeting was held under the overall theme of Celebrating the International Year of Rice(IYR) in Africa and included two distinct parts. Presentations on partnership-based research activities by the Center’s scientists and network coordinators and discussions on strategic issues relating to the Center’s R&D activities were the focus of the first part of the meeting. The second part of the meeting was devoted to the IYR Celebration.
IYR Celebration
The Rice Day celebration in Yamoussoukro—one of the most important agricultural districts of Côte d’Ivoire, where the NERICAs and other WARDA-developed varieties have been enthusiastically adopted by farmers—kicked off in grand style the IYR celebration in the country.
The Ambassador of Japan and representatives of the Minister of Agriculture for Côte d’Ivoire and local authorities of Yamoussoukro, who participated in the celebration, praised the Center’s achievements and expressed their staunch support.
More than 500 representatives of local rice-growing cooperatives, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and farmers’ associations, including women farmers displaced by the Ivoirian conflict, participated in a colorful parade that set the mood for the Rice Day celebration.
The program included a Round-Table discussion on rice marketing and policy issues, an instructive visit to five sites near Yamoussoukro ranging from demonstration trials of improved rice technologies to extension and processing.
A comprehensive exhibition showcasing rice-based technologies and products was a major highlight of the program. But the pièce de résistance was a NERICA-cooking competition that attracted entries from nine maquis (local West African restaurants), which were judged by a committee and prizes were awarded in different categories.
The Center’s local partners who participated in the Rice Day event included the Centre national de recherche agronomique (CNRA), Programme national du riz (PNR), Agence nationale d’appui au développement rural (ANADER), Ecole supérieure d’agronomie (ESA), Association nationale des riziculteurs de Côte d’Ivoire (ANARIZ-CI), and the women-oriented NGOs—Organisation des volontaires pour le développement local (OVDL) and Doubehi International.
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About AfricaRice

AfricaRice is a CGIAR Research Center – part of a global research partnership for a food-secure future. It is also an intergovernmental association of African member countries.

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