Cotonou, Benin — “In spite of their traumatic experience in November 2004 at the Center’s headquarters in Côte d’Ivoire, our staff have settled down quickly in Cotonou, which has proven to be a safe haven for research,” stated Africa Rice Center (WARDA) Director General Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze at a press conference held in connection with the Center’s first Board Meeting in Cotonou. “Our scientists are vigorously engaged in brainstorming, planning and doing research, thanks to the warm hospitality shown by the Government of Benin,” he added.
Since January 2005, the Center has been working out of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)-Benin station in Cotonou, which is now serving as its temporary headquarters. The principal headquarters of the Center remains at M’bé, Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire, but the temporary relocation to Cotonou brings together all elements of the WARDA team—scientists, administration and management—on one site for the first time since the civil conflict started in Côte d’Ivoire in 2002.WARDA has regional research stations near St Louis, Senegal and at IITA in Ibadan, Nigeria.
Dr Nwanze mentioned that the host country agreement with the Government of Benin was signed within the shortest span in the history of the Center and thanked IITA and the Institut national de recherches agronomiques du Bénin (INRAB), which have offered their facilities to WARDA.
“The Director General of INRAB, Dr David Arodokoum has especially taken a lot of personal initiative and interest to facilitate the groundwork for the relocation,” Dr Nwanze said. “We are also very grateful to IITA for helping us accommodate about 90% of our Management, Administration, Finance and Research staff on its Campus.”
Describing the benefits of the Center’s achievements for Benin, Dr Nwanze highlighted the African Development Bank (AfDB)-funded NERICA dissemination project. Benin is one of the seven pilot countries that will greatly benefit from this project, which is being coordinated by the African Rice Initiative (ARI), a network hosted by WARDA
“The AfDB project coupled with the physical presence of the Africa Rice Center in Cotonou will significantly help Benin to increase its rice production,” Dr Nwanze said. . “I am confident that this new closer relationship will be mutually beneficial,” Dr Nwanze concluded.