The insignia of the Chevalier of Légion d’honneur – France’s highest distinction –was conferred on Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck by Madame Kuster-Ménager, Ambassador of France in Benin, in a brief ceremony in Cotonou on 22 November 2013.
Dr Seck was until recently Director General of the Benin-based Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice). He is currently the Senegal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Equipment.
Established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the Légion d’honneur honors individuals for exemplary service and distinguished achievements. Dr Seck received this prestigious award for his outstanding contribution and dedication to agricultural research and development in Africa.
Emphasizing Dr Seck’s high professional competence, his human qualities and his strong commitment to food security in Africa, the Ambassador remarked, “He is a well-known personality in the scientific world and is attentive to Africa’s needs and its realities.”
The Ambassador praised Dr Seck’s spirit of partnership and his love for – and mastery of – the French language. She highlighted that Dr Seck has significantly strengthened the scientific collaboration between African, French and international research institutions during his leadership of the Senegalese Agricultural Research Institute (ISRA) and subsequently of AfricaRice.
She gave the example of the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), a CGIAR Research Program, which was launched in 2010, in which French research organizations such as the Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD) and the Institute of Research for Development (IRD) are actively involved along with national and international research organizations.
“I feel deeply honored,” said Dr Seck, expressing his strong conviction that Africa’s agricultural development can be possible only through strong science and partnership.
A specialist in agricultural strategy and policy analysis, Dr Seck is a passionate advocate of the continent’s potential to become one of the world’s largest granaries in the coming decades as it has enough land and water resources, agro-ecological diversity, human capital and technologies.
He is a member of the Senegal Academy of Sciences and Technologies (ANSTS), the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS).
“This recognition is a tribute to the African scientific community and the cooperation between France and Africa,” Dr Seck stated. “I therefore share this honor with my colleagues of ISRA, AfricaRice, ANSTS, AAS, the French National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA), CIRAD, IRD and the CGIAR Consortium.
AfricaRice interim Director General Dr Adama Traoré remarked, “This is a proud moment for AfricaRice and all its partners, including the national agricultural research systems of Africa and all the members of GRiSP.”
AfricaRice is an intergovernmental association of 25 African member countries and one of the 15 international agricultural research Centers that are members of the CGIAR Consortium. AfricaRice leads GRiSP activities in Africa.