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.