16 March 2010, Cotonou, Benin –
Acknowledging the tangible progress made by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) on many fronts, its Board of Trustees congratulated the Director General Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck and his team for “successfully steering the Center on a path of continuous growth at a most challenging period.” It emphasized at the same time the importance of prudently managing risks associated with growth and geographical expansion.
The Board unanimously approved a second term for the Director General for another 5 years, noting the strong dynamism in the research activities, motivated staff, sound financial health and the increased trust gained by the Center from its member states. The increasing number of countries from across the continent joining AfricaRice was particularly appreciated.
Some of the major achievements of the Center highlighted by the Board at its just-concluded meeting include:
- The increase in recovery of membership contribution. For the first time the member states now collectively rank as the number one core donor of AfricaRice.
- The higher rate of accession of member States in the period 2006-2010 than in 1971-2006. Madagascar has just joined the Center.
- The 78% increase in the Center’s total budget in 2010 compared to 2006, with a significant rise in fund reserves
- The large number of exciting research projects addressing major challenges of rice in Africa, including climate change
- Stronger links with policy-makers through its Council of Ministers
- Solid bonding with national programs
- Close partnership with its sister Centers from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), especially the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and with advanced research institutions
- New strategic alliances with emerging countries
- The Agricultural Merit Order of France awarded to the Director General and several international prizes to scientists
AfricaRice is an intergovernmental association of 24 African countries as well as one of the 15 international agricultural research Centers supported by the CGIAR.
The AfricaRice Board and Management have been fully engaged in the CGIAR reform process from the beginning. Convinced of its value, the Board issued a statement at the end of the meeting that the Center would sign the Agreement establishing the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers. “This is consistent with the decision of the Council of Ministers of AfricaRice.”
It reiterated the urgent need to fast-track a mega program on rice-based cropping systems in line with the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) proposal developed jointly by three CGIAR-supported Centers in consultation with other partners.
“Such a mega program can have a significant and positive impact in Africa in the fight against poverty and food insecurity as rice is becoming one of the most important staple foods of the continent,” the Board stated.
The other decisions taken by the Board include the establishment of a Research Associate position to further motivate junior research staff and to remove the anomaly in the retirement age of nationally recruited staff. The 2010 working budget was approved.
The Board bade a fond farewell to two of its long-standing members – Mr Gaston Grenier from Canada, Chair of the Audit Committee and also the former Board Chair and Dr Emmanuel Owusu-Bennoah from Ghana, who served as the Chair of the Program Committee.
It extended a warm welcome to two new Board members: Dr Peter Matlon from USA, who is no stranger to AfricaRice having been its Director of Research and Ms Thenjiwe Chikane, a prominent Chartered Accountant from South Africa.
The Board requested Dr Matlon to serve as the new Chair of the Program Committee and Dr Henri Carsalade as the new Chair of the Audit Committee. Mr Getachew Engida was unanimously re-elected as the Board Chair.