7 Dec 2010, Cotonou, Benin – The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) was presented the South-South Cooperation Excellence Award 2010 at the just-concluded Third Annual Global South-South Development Expo in Geneva, Switzerland, for its NERICA rice varieties for the upland ecology (18 varieties) and for the lowland ecology (60 varieties), which were recognized as an innovative development option from the South.
On behalf of AfricaRice, Dr Inussa Akintayo received the award presented by Mr Yiping Zhou, Director, Special Unit for South-South Cooperation in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Dr Josephine Ojiambo, President of the UN General Assembly High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation.
“We are honored to receive this prestigious award,” said Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, Director General of AfricaRice. “NERICA varieties have shown how science-based options can improve food security, reduce foreign exchange costs and improve the lives of poor farmers in Africa.”
With nearly 40% of Africa’s total rice consumption coming from the international market, African national rice economies are more exposed to unpredictable external supply and price shocks than elsewhere. The continent is especially vulnerable because of its high prevalence of poverty and food insecurity.
Adapted to the agro-ecological conditions in Africa and uniquely suited to smallholder rice farmers, NERICA varieties for the upland and lowland ecologies have been developed by AfricaRice researchers in close collaboration with many partners, particularly the national programs.
“The NERICA varieties are now grown in more than 700,000 hectares across Africa and since they are self-pollinating, farmers can keep the seed from year to year,” explained Dr Akintayo, who is spearheading the promotion of improved rice varieties in the region through the Center’s African Rice Initiative, with support mainly from Japan, UNDP and the African Development Bank.
Organized by the United Nations each year since 2008, the Global South-South Development Expo provides a forum to enable developing countries and their development partners, including donor agencies, organizations of the United Nations system, and private-sector and civil society organizations, to showcase their evidence-based South-South development solutions.
The Third Annual Global South-South Development Expo was attended by more than 400 delegates from over 40 countries and over 100 innovative solutions that can help achieve the Millennium Development Goals were showcased.
AfricaRice was invited to take part in the Expo as well as in the High-Level Meeting on South-South and Triangular Cooperation, which was organized to facilitate knowledge sharing of best practices in South-South and triangular cooperation and discussion of common challenges and innovative methods of capacity development.