Cotonou, Benin — Commending highly the resilience and commitment of the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) staff and Management during the Ivoirian crisis, the WARDA Council of Ministers reaffirmed its special bond with the Center and urged member countries and regional bodies to strengthen their support to the Center.
The Council emphasized that as “the basic principles and philosophy which underpin the Center’s operations conform with the expectations of member countries, WARDA should keep its identity and autonomy while increasing its relations with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Centers, such as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).”
Putting its force solidly behind the Center, the Council further resolved to take necessary steps to make WARDA a Center of Excellence of the African Union, because the technologies and knowledge generated by the Center were powerful tools to fight poverty and hunger in Africa.
The Council felicitated WARDA Director General Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze for his dedicated service to the cause of rice research and development in sub-Saharan Africa during his mandate and decided to decree a distinguished honor award to him. Dr Nwanze will complete his second and final term as Director General in November 2006. The Council endorsed the process for the recruitment of the next Director General that is under way.
These formed part of the key resolutions made at the 25th Ordinary Session of the WARDA Council of Ministers that was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 22-23 September 2005, under the Chairmanship of His Excellency Laya Sawadogo, Minister for Secondary and Higher Education and Scientific Research, Government of Burkina Faso.
As an autonomous intergovernmental research association of African member states, WARDA is the only CGIAR-supported Center that was established by the political will of African Governments and has the Council of Ministers of its member states as its highest oversight body. This distinct organizational model gives a strong feeling of ownership of WARDA by the Council, making the Center’s activities highly relevant to the region.
The other Council resolutions made at the 25th Session included a confirmation that Bouaké in Côte d’Ivoire remains WARDA’s permanent headquarters. The Council welcomed the initiative to combine the regional cereals networks in West Africa around six themes and recommended that based on its exemplary work and mechanism, the ROCARIZ rice network hosted by WARDA, should be the coordinator of the thematic group on rice.
The Council invited WARDA member states to make judicious use of biotechnology to increase rice productivity and decided that WARDA should take a leading role in rice policy research for the benefit of sub-Saharan Africa, with focus on West Africa.
Thanking the Government of Burkina Faso for its hospitality and excellent organization of the 25th Session, the Council endorsed that Nigeria should take up the Council chairmanship for the next 2 years and host the next session of the Council.