Friday, November 7, 2008

Research Days mark significant changes for Africa’s rice research

At the recent Africa Rice Center Research Days, its Scientific Advisory Committee comprising three top rice experts from the world – Prof. Takeshi Horie from Japan, Dr Alain Ghesquière from France and Dr Neil Rutger from USA – praised the Center for the changes made in its new Center’s research thrusts.
The changes include:

(1) A clear focus on the development of the next generation varieties for Africa in partnership with national partners, IRRI and CIAT – building on the  NERICA success;
(2) Greater linkages with development organizations operating at village level to close yield gaps and enhance rice productivity in farmers’ fields;
(3) Increased emphasis on the lowland ecology which has high potential for sustainable rice expansion and diversification in the continent;
(4) Introduction of rice value-chain research to study ways to increase the competitiveness of the Africa rice sector; and
(5) Greater emphasis on capacity building and rice information exchange.

 Africa Rice Center Deputy Director General Dr Marco Wopereis presented the Center’s restructured research programs and the outline of a new Strategic Plan for 2010 and beyond, which is being developed in close consultation with its national partners.

The Committee expressed its appreciation for the successful research alignment between Africa Rice Center and IRRI, which it considered to be of great benefit to Africa’s rice producers and consumers. It also appreciated the progress in the number of scientific publications by Africa Rice Center scientists – compared to 2007 – particularly in partnership with national scientists.

Participants of the Research Days meeting included the Chairs of ROCARIZ rice network and African Rice Initiative, the Coordinator of the West Africa Productivity Program, scientists from all Africa Rice Center research stations and partners from IRRI and IITA-Cotonou as well as the Director General of Gabon’s national program who was visiting Africa Rice Center to explore the possibilities of future collaboration. Representatives from Africa Rice Center’s National Experts Committee, comprising the Directors General of Africa Rice Center’s 22 member States also attended.