|24 November 2008, Cotonou, Benin – An international Scientific Advisory Committee has hailed the changes in the new research thrusts of the Africa Rice Center (WARDA), stating that the Center has very high responsibilities as it is “the strategic crossroads of rice research for Africa today.”
The changes include:
The Scientific Advisory Committee comprising three top rice experts from the world – Prof. Takeshi Horie from Japan, Dr Alain Ghesquière from France and Dr Neil Rutger from USA – made these comments at the recent Research Days organized by the Center to review its 2008 activities and plan for the next year.
WARDA Deputy Director General Dr Marco Wopereis presented the Center’s restructured research programs and the outline of a new Strategic Plan for 2010 and beyond, which is being developed in close consultation with its national partners.
A major part of the Research Days meeting was devoted to strategic research issues in the areas of genetic diversity and improvement; water management; weed management; integrated pest management; evolution of rice networks, training and extension linkages; seed systems; learning and innovation system; impact assessment; policy; and value chains.
The Committee advised the researchers to maximize the use of the rich gene pool of the African rice species; give importance to systems approach; increase the involvement of social scientists; and pay attention to research support staff who are valuable for the overall performance.
In its evaluation of WARDA’s 2008 activities and achievements, the Committee expressed its appreciation for the progress in the number of scientific publications by WARDA scientists – compared to 2007 – particularly in partnership with national scientists.
The Committee members were extremely pleased with the successful research alignment between WARDA and IRRI, which they considered to be of great benefit to Africa’s rice producers and consumers.
Participants of the Research Days meeting included the Chairs of ROCARIZ rice network and African Rice Initiative, the Coordinator of the West Africa Productivity Program, scientists from all WARDA research stations and partners from IRRI and IITA-Cotonou as well as the Director General of Gabon’s national program who was visiting WARDA to explore the possibilities of future collaboration.
Representatives from WARDA’s National Experts Committee, comprising the Directors General of WARDA’s 22 member States also attended. WARDA is a unique Center of theConsultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) because of its status as an association of African member States.
Speaking on this special bonding, WARDA Director General Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck stated that WARDA and its national partners jointly develop, manage and evaluate research projects. “WARDA’s strength depends on the strength of its national partners.”