04 August 2010, Cotonou, Benin – The Government of Madagascar has conveyed its deep appreciation to the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) Council of Ministers for accepting its application to join the Center.
“Rice is critical to our country’s economy. We have joined AfricaRice because we realize that the future of rice production in the continent depends on this partnership,” stated His Excellency Mr Mamitiana Jaonina, Minister of Agriculture of Madagascar in a letter addressed to the AfricaRice Director General Dr. Papa Abdoulaye Seck.
Madagascar is one of the biggest per capita consumers of rice in the world. Rice provides over 50% of calories consumed in the country and rice production involves about 80% of rural households. However, the country is desperate to boost production as it is importing about 200,000 tonnes of rice every year to meet its growing demand.
Warmly welcoming the new member State, AfricaRice Director General Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck said that the Center has already been working closely with the country. “We have several joint projects, such as the Japan-funded Emergency Rice Initiative.” The Minister of Agriculture has invited Dr Seck to attend a seed donation ceremony as part of this Initiative.
Madagascar has also greatly benefited from an innovative farmer learning tool developed by AfricaRice – known as Participatory Learning and Action Research for Integrated Crop Management (PLAR-ICM) – which has helped double average rice yields in farmers’ fields in northern Madagascar through a project supported by the Aga Khan Foundation.
With the joining of Madagascar, the number of AfricaRice member States has gone up to 24. The Center was created in 1971 by 11 African states as an autonomous intergovernmental research organization. Today its membership comprises 24 countries, covering West, Central, East and North African regions. It is also one of the 15 international Centers supported by theConsultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).