Cotonou, Benin — The Africa Rice Center (WARDA) has been selected to receive the 2006 United Nations Award for South-South Triangular Partnership in recognition of its New Rice for Africa (NERICA) initiative.
The announcement was made by His Excellency Eladio Loizaga, Permanent Representative of Paraguay to the United Nations in his capacity as President, High-level Committee of South-South Cooperation of the United Nations General Assembly.
The UN South-South Partnership Award is presented to individuals or institutions for “spearheading, transforming, empowering, mobilizing and/or expanding the South-South agenda by increasing human and financial resources of the South through partnership for development.”
“WARDA is receiving this award because of its pioneering efforts in brokering North-South partnerships in order to create hybridized varieties of rice applicable to conditions in the South,” the President said.
“The success of the NERICA initiative can inspire others to follow the WARDA example in implementing triangular cooperation,” he added. “This is of particular importance to the General Assembly and to the countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, which are seeking to promote their economic and social advancement through South-South Cooperation.”
The groundbreaking work on the NERICAs was carried out by an international research team led by Dr Monty Jones, then a WARDA scientist. This earned him the 2004 World Food Prize, the first-ever won by an African. Dr Jones is currently the Executive Secretary of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).
Hearing the news of the UN Award, WARDA’s new Director General and former Chair of FARA, Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, said that he was very happy for WARDA and for Africa.
“We are greatly honored by this important award, which is a tribute not only to WARDA but to all the partners who have been involved in the NERICA development and dissemination, particularly through the Interspecific Hybridization Project (IHP),” he said.
IHP was launched by WARDA to bring together the pool of expertise from advanced research institutes to African national programs through collaborative networks linking individual experts and institutions around the world. It was supported by Japan, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Rockefeller and Gatsby Foundations. IHP is continuing to advance further the research and development work on the NERICAs in Africa.
The IHP research and development partners include the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI); Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT); Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS); Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD); Cornell, Tokyo and Yunnan Universities; and the national programs of African countries.
The research on NERICAs has also been sponsored right from the beginning by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which supports WARDA.
Congratulating WARDA on this “additional major recognition”, Dr Francisco Reifschneider, CGIAR Director, remarked, “This will serve as an inspiration to others inside and outside the agricultural sector. South-South Triangular Partnerships are more critical today than ever, and WARDA is a wonderful example of this productive collaboration.”
The formal award ceremony will take place on 19 December 2006 at UN Headquarters to mark the Third UN Day for South-South Cooperation. His Excellency Mr Kenzo Oshima, Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN, has been invited to present the award.
Invited speakers include UN Secreatry General Kofi Annan, Mr Kemal Dervis, UNDP Administrator and former United States President Bill Clinton, the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery.
Dr Seck, who will receive the UN Award on behalf of WARDA, expressed his deep gratitude to IHP donors and partners, particularly UNDP, Japan, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Dr Seck also thanked the CGIAR, the World Bank and other NERICA champions for their strong support to WARDA that has enabled the Center and its partners to sustain vital research activities.
He recognized the valuable contribution from WARDA member countries including the national programs, advanced research institutes, nongovernmental organizations and CGIAR Alliance Centers.
“This prestigious award gives us additional encouragement and inspiration to serve Africa better by harnessing the best of science and technology through productive partnership,” Dr Seck said.