Cotonou, Benin — The Africa Rice Center (WARDA) Board of Trustees formally recognized the WARDA scientists, post-docs, PhD scholars and other staff members who have recently won prominent national and international awards. The event took place at the end of the 27th Meeting of the Board on 23 March 2007, Cotonou, Benin.
The Board first congratulated the Center for winning recently the United Nations Award for South-South Triangular Partnership in recognition of its NERICA initiative. The Award was presented to the WARDA Director General Dr Papa Seck, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
“This is one of the highest recognitions for research partnerships and we are justifiably proud of it,” said the Board Chair Mr Gaston Grenier. “We wish to thank each member of the WARDA family for the UN Award as well as for the series of world-class prizes and honors that WARDA has won over the years.”
The Board then applauded the success of individual members of the WARDA family for their recent achievements.
- Dr Moussa Sié
Dr Sié, WARDA Lowland Rice Breeder, won two prestigious awards in 2006: the Fukui International Koshihikari Rice Prize of Japan and the Burkina Faso Presidential award.
Dr Sié is a Burkinabe national and is the first African to receive the Japanese prize, which was presented to him in recognition of his significant contributions to rice production in sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr Sié, in close association with national programs of West African countries, was instrumental in developing NERICAs adapted to lowland and irrigated ecologies, with very high potential for impact in Africa.
In December 2006 the Forum for Scientific Research and Technological Innovations (FRSIT) held in Ouagadougou conferred the Burkina Faso Presidential Prize on Dr Sié and the national rice program team. The prize honors the development of products that have contributed to achieving development priorities of Burkina Faso.
The Presidential prize was given for the success of nine rice varieties including seven NERICAs, which are helping to increase rice productivity and production in Burkina Faso.
- Dr Khady Nani Dramé
Dr Dramé has just won the 2007 L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science International Fellowship award for her post-doc project proposal on the development of drought-tolerant rice varieties using biotechnology at WARDA.
Dr Dramé, of Senegalese nationality, is among 15 outstanding young women scientists from around the world who received this fellowship, which will allow them to pursue research on life sciences in world-renowned institutes. To date, more than 350 young women researchers worldwide have benefited from the unique Fellowship program.
At WARDA, Dr Dramé will work under the supervision of Dr Marie-Noelle Ndjiondjop, Head of Biotechnology Unit. At the end of her fellowship, Dr Dramé would like to return to Senegal as a researcher in plant biotechnology and contribute to the development of molecular and genetic engineering technologies through research and teaching activities.
- Dr MacAire Dobo
Dr Dobo from Côte d’Ivoire, who was earlier with WARDA, has been offered a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation at WARDA.
Dr MacAire’s PhD study focused on identifying rice grain quality molecular markers. His study led to an important collaborative project between Texas A&M University, a European company, and WARDA. He will be able to continue this important work at WARDA.
- Dr Daniel Nougbégnon Dalohoun
Dr Dalohoun, from Benin, has been granted a fellowship from the United Nations University and Maastricht University or UNU-MERIT, which is a joint research and training centre based in The Netherlands. UNU-MERIT provides insights into the social, political and economic factors that drive technological change and innovation.
UNU-MERIT has several regional nodes on innovation systems around the world and Dr Dalohoun is representing the West African node. As part of his post-doc project under Dr Paul Van Mele, WARDA Technology Transfer Specialist, Dr Dalohoun will address institutional issues on the NERICA dissemination by using 4 West African countries as case studies.
The outputs will greatly help WARDA to better target future capacity building efforts of national seed systems and pro-actively engineer institutional innovations supporting seed sector development.
- Mr Soul Shava
Mr Shava, of Zimbabwean nationality, has been selected as a Fellow for the Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (LEAP) of the Norman Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program. The Fellowship has been established in honor of Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, Father of the Green Revolution.
Mr Shava, from Rhodes University, was one of the few outstanding graduate students who were recognized for their promise and potential. The selection panel stated that Mr Shava’s research has potential to make an impact in sub-Saharan Africa and honor Dr. Borlaug’s achievements.
Mr Shava’s project, which will be conducted under Dr Margaret Kroma, WARDA Sociologist, and Dr. Paul Van Mele, will focus on the application of local community knowledge in selected WARDA activities from an institutional historical perspective.
- Mr Gustave Djedatin
Mr Djedatin from Benin has won the 2007 Generation Challenge Programme fellowship. He will work on the identification of resistance genes in African germplasm under Dr Marie-Noelle Ndjiondjop.
The project is expected to give an insight into possible existence of resistance diversity in the African cultivated rice Oryza glaberrima. His work will also provide the opportunity to transfer bacterial leaf blight resistance genes and to develop further marker-assisted selection.
“We are very impressed by the caliber of all these awardees and are especially pleased that young African women scientists are making their mark in the scientific world. This is a happy trend for the continent,” stated Mr Grenier.
He added that these young scientists would bring in new dynamism to WARDA, which can reach even greater heights than ever before in rice research for Africa.
Before concluding, Mr Grenier mentioned that WARDA was not only getting international recognition for its research but also for its research communication products. A major highlight of the CGIAR Annual General Meeting December 2006 was the international photo competition on agricultural research and its impact.
WARDA’s photo submission by R Raman won 2nd prize and that by Paul Van Mele won “Honorable mention”. The photos were selected by a panel of photographers from the National Geographic Society and the Washington Times.
These photos were prominently displayed at the AGM photo exhibition and appreciated by many visitors, including the World Bank President. “I wish to place on record our deep appreciation to Raman and Paul for their achievements,” Mr Grenier remarked.