18 March 09, Cotonou, Benin –
Summing up the just-concluded 3-day meeting of the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) Board of Trustees, the Board Chair Mr Getachew Engida said, “We are impressed with the high donor trust that the Center has gained as well as the substantial increase in the African ownership of the Center.”
The Board congratulated the Director General Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck and all the staff of the Africa Rice Center for “the tremendous growth, the large visibility and the doubling of budget in such a short period.”
The Africa Rice Center (WARDA) is an intergovernmental association of 22 African member States and one of the 15 international Centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
The following achievements of the Center were particularly highlighted:
- The 12-fold increase in the average annual contribution from member States to the Center, thanks to sustained advocacy by the Director General. The member States now rank third among the Center’s donors for unrestricted funding.
- The doubling of the Center’s budget compared to 2007
- The increase in the number of member States from 17 in 2006 to 22 in 2008; its membership now covers all the regions of Africa.
- The clear and coherent research agenda carried out in close partnership with the national programs, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), advanced research institutes and universities and other key R&D actors in the region
- The rapid progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of its External Program and Management Review (EPMR)
- The high visibility of the Center in strategic international and national outlets (CNN, BBC, CNBC, New Scientist, The Economist, Jeune Afrique…). The Board was pleased to note that the Director General was a panelist at the United Nations High Level Meeting on Millennium Development Goals in New York in September 2008 where he advocated for sustained support to agriculture and agricultural research for Africa to become food secure.
Encouraging the Center to keep up this positive momentum the Board stressed on the need to effectively manage the institutional growth and focus on the risks, particularly those already identified by the Director General in his presentation to the Board. “We are pleased that risk management has now become an integral part of the Africa Rice Center.”
The Board approved the Center’s 2008 externally audited financial statements and its 2009 budget.
Speaking about the current CGIAR Change Management Process, the Board stated that the Center was actively taking part in all the discussions on the new CGIAR and the proposed mega programs. “We are also taking care to ensure that the unique model of the Africa Rice Center as a pan-African intergovernmental institution is taken into consideration as it is a significant asset for the CGIAR.”
The Board extended a warm welcome to Dr Henri Carsalade from France as new Board member. Dr Carsalade, who is a well-known research leader, is no stranger to the Africa Rice Center, having been earlier its Board Chair.
The Board took the opportunity to send a congratulatory letter to Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze, former Director General of the Africa Rice Center on his appointment as the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) from 1 April 2009 for a 4-year term.