13 February 2008, COTONOU, Benin —
During the recent courtesy visit paid by the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) Director General Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, His Excellency Mr Hamath Sall, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Government of Senegal, emphasized the urgent need for strong technical support from WARDA to help boost domestic rice production.
Senegal, like other rice-importing countries in Africa, is facing serious difficulties in view of the increasing world price of this commodity. The Government of Senegal has developed a national strategy to attain self-sufficiency in rice by 2015.
The Minister expressed great admiration for WARDA’s technologies, such as the NERICA® varieties for upland and lowland ecologies and urged their rapid evaluation for large-scale cultivation in Senegal.
Senegal hosts WARDA’s regional Sahel center for rice research in St Louis. The Minister recognized the importance of the Sahel varieties developed by WARDA and its partners for the irrigated ecology. For more than 10 years, 70-90% of the Senegal River Valley has been covered by three high-yielding Sahel varieties.
WARDA and its partners have also developed the ASI thresher-cleaner (awarded Senegal President’s award for science in 2003) and a range of integrated crop management practices that boost the productivity of irrigated rice in the Senegal River valley.
Building on their success, WARDA’s St Louis center has recently developed more productive Sahel varieties with yield potential of 10 to 12 tonnes per hectare. Five of these new Sahel varieties were officially released by the Government of Senegal in December 2007.
The WARDA Director General was accompanied by Dr Macoumba Diouf, Director General of the Institut sénégalais de recherches agricoles (ISRA), Dr Marco Wopereis, WARDA Assistant Director General for Research and Dr Vincent Bado, WARDA Representative in Senegal.
Before concluding the meeting, the Minister asked the ISRA Director General to convene a meeting of the technical wing of the Ministry with WARDA, ISRA, the Direction régionale d’agriculture (DRA) as well as development agencies, such as the Agence nationale de conseil agricole et rural (ANCAR) and the Société d’aménagement et d’exploitation des terres du Delta du Sénégal (SAED).
The meeting’s main objective would be to develop joint work-plans to provide R&D support to Senegal’s goal of attaining self-sufficiency in rice by 2015. Both the Government of Senegal and WARDA will explore possibilities for mobilizing resources to implement the joint work-plans.
Thanking the Minister for enabling a close collaboration between the national agricultural R&D institutions in Senegal and WARDA, Dr Seck reaffirmed WARDA’s total commitment to support Senegal in attaining its goal.
As a follow-up to the meeting, a concept note on possible contributions of WARDA to the Senegalese rice self-sufficiency program was presented by Dr Wopereis to Senegalese R&D representatives in St. Louis, Senegal.