The 29th Session of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers was held in N’Djamena, Chad, 10-11 December 2013, under the chairmanship of Hon. Moussa Mahamat Agrey, Chadian Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation.
Progress made by AfricaRice since the Council met in 2011 in the Gambia was reviewed.
The Council greatly appreciated the significant developments in Africa’s rice sector and the pivotal role played by AfricaRice and its partners through rice research, development, training and partnership activities, under the overall framework of the CGIAR Research Program on Rice, known as the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP).
The unprecedented growth rate in rice production in sub-Saharan Africa (8.4% per year) resulting from key investments made by farmers, governments, the private sector and the donor community following the 2007–2008 global food crisis was highlighted.
In the inaugural message by the Chadian Prime Minister, which was delivered by the Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, the AfricaRice leadership was commended for its successful efforts to increase the number of member countries.
“On behalf of the Council of Ministers, we extend a special welcome to Rwanda, which recently joined AfricaRice. This brings the total number of AfricaRice member countries to 25,” the Chair of the Council of Ministers remarked.
The Council formulated a number of resolutions. AfricaRice was urged to:
Support member countries in the provision of quality seed to face emergency situations and the development of viable seed systems
Lead capacity development efforts across the rice value chain
Strengthen participation of the African Union in AfricaRice’s activities
Continue efforts to increase the number of member countries
Continue efforts to encourage member countries to pay their contributions
A special resolution focused on the importance of the Rice Sector Development Hub network – an innovative concept introduced by AfricaRice to achieve outcomes and impacts from rice research in sub-Saharan Africa in a systematic and geographically explicit manner. Ministers urged national agricultural research systems to further operationalize and strengthen activities in the Hubs.
The Council of Ministers noted with satisfaction AfricaRice’s intention to open a regional research center in Central Africa in response to strong demand from the countries of the sub-region. A strategy to move forward on this was recommended.
The Council recognized the important contribution of the Benin government, which has hosted AfricaRice temporary headquarters since 2005. It approved the phased plan of return of AfricaRice headquarters to Côte d’Ivoire starting from June 2014, provided that the Ivorian Government fulfills its commitments to facilitate the return. It asked AfricaRice to bear in mind proper management of socio-economic consequences on human resources in Benin, relating to the departure.
A special motion was passed by the Council to congratulate and thank Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, the former AfricaRice Director General, who was recently appointed as Senegal’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Equipment.
The Council also thanked the interim Director General Dr Adama Traoré for his efforts to ensure a seamless transition and all the staff members of AfricaRice for the recent achievements.
After reviewing the process of recruitment of the new Director General, the Council asked that the process be revisited with a new time line, where the new Director General would be selected in September 2014 and would be in place by January 2015.
During the closing ceremony Uganda was asked to take over the chairmanship of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers. Uganda was the first country from East Africa to join AfricaRice in 2007.
“This is a great honor for us,” said Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, Uganda Minister of State, representing the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. “Our country has benefitted a lot from technologies generated by AfricaRice. We pledge our support and we will continue to advocate for it across the region.”
Before concluding, the Council sincerely thanked the President of Chad, the Prime Minister and the people of Chad for their warm hospitality and the excellent organization of the session.
AfricaRice is a pan-African intergovernmental research Association of member countries with the Council of Ministers as its highest oversight body. It is also one of the 15 international agricultural research Centers that are members of the CGIAR Consortium.