Cotonou, Benin — The hallmark of the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) is its distinctive brand of partnership that it has forged since its establishment in 1971 with the national agricultural research systems (NARS) as well as with other stakeholders in the rice sector in sub-Saharan Africa.
To pay tribute to this historic bonding, WARDA is commemorating its anniversary this year under the overall theme of “Celebrating 35 years of Research Partnership to Improve Food Security in Africa.”
The celebration, which is designed to cast a spotlight on WARDA’s partnership-based research achievements as well as on its vision for the future, will culminate with an event-filled program on 29 September 2006 at WARDA’s temporary headquarters in Cotonou, Benin.
As part of the celebration’s spirit of “looking back to the future”, a children’s book on New Rices for Africa (NERICA)—the flagship technology of this partnership—will be issued. A brief history of WARDA will also be brought out for this occasion.
The anniversary program also includes exhibitions and demonstrations of rice research and development (R&D) by WARDA and its partners, a NERICA cooking competition involving several local restaurants, the inauguration of WARDA’s medium-term rice genebank and round-table discussions on television and radio on the role of rice and rice research in the economy of sub-Saharan African countries.
Representatives from WARDA’s member countries, donors, diplomatic corps, R&D partners, including NARS, civil society organizations, the private sector and farmers’ associations as well as the press are expected to attend the celebration.
To raise the interest of the new generation of Africans in agricultural science and technology as powerful tools to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, school children have been specially invited.
During the last few years, WARDA has passed through several crises, mainly because of civil conflicts in its host country, Côte d’Ivoire. “However, WARDA staff have succeeded in turning adversity into opportunity through tenacity and resilience, and after every crisis, the Center has gone from strength to strength,” states Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze, WARDA Director General.
Dr Nwanze’s vision has helped expand WARDA’s horizon to the whole continent, transforming the sub-regional Association into the Africa Rice Center, despite the major crises that it has faced. Dr Nwanze’s 10-year term will end in November 2006 and the anniversary celebration will be a fitting occasion to recognize his valuable contribution.
WARDA’s 35th Anniversary celebration will also offer WARDA Management an opportunity to recognize and appreciate staff members and their families for their resilience and commitment. Awards will be presented to recognize long-serving employees.
Since its establishment in 1971, when farsighted leaders from 11 West African countries decided to constitute a regional association for rice R&D, WARDA has made rapid strides, with the increase in the number of its member countries, its integration into the international system of Centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research(CGIAR) and its gradual evolution into the Africa Rice Center in 2003, in recognition of its leading role in rice R&D in SSA.
As an autonomous intergovernmental research association of African member states, WARDA is unique among the Centers supported by the CGIAR. Thanks to its distinctive partnership model, WARDA’s scientists are the first Africans to receive world-class awards, including theWorld Food Prize in 2004 and the International Japanese Prize in 2006, in additional to high-level national and international distinctions.