Sunday, July 25, 2010

Madagascar delighted to join AfricaRice as member State

The Government of Madagascar has conveyed its deep appreciation to 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 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, Dr 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 the CGIAR. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

AfricaRice student wins 2009-2010 Africa-wide science competitions

Ms Esperance Benedicte Zossou of Benin, who is pursuing her postgraduate studies at AfricaRice, won the Third Prize in the 2009-2010 Africa-Wide Women & Young Professional in Science Competitions for her work on the “Technological and institutional innovations triggered by farmer-to-farmer rice parboiling video in Central Benin.”

The Science Competitions were organized jointly by CTA, FARA, RUFORUM, ANAFE, AGRA, NEPAD in Burkina Faso, 19-20 Jul 2010, as a side event during the 5th African Agricultural Science Week and FARA General Assembly.

The Africa-wide science competitions sought to identify, recognize and reward the hard work and excellence of young professionals (aged 25 – 40 years) and women scientists who are engaged in innovative and pioneering research and communicating their outputs (knowledge, technologies and approaches) to improve agricultural productivity and the livelihoods of rural communities.

One hundred submissions were received for both competitions from which 41 top entrants were selected to develop their abstracts into full papers.

In Mar 2010, Ms Zossou had won the Outstanding Young Scientist Award at the Africa Rice Congress 2010, organized by AfricaRice in Bamako, Mali.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

IFAD-funded rice project makes steady progress in DR Congo, Guinea and Sierra Leone

The IFAD project to boost rice production in West and Central Africa (WCA) held its second and critical implementers’ meeting, 12-15 Jul 2010 in Cotonou, Benin.  The key themes of this meeting were to share results, to review progress and to strengthen existing strategies to sustain activities even as the project concludes.

The overall goal of this Project is to improve the contribution of rice production and post-harvest technologies for poverty reduction and food security in WCA.  Its specific objectives are to:
  • Develop comprehensive packages of NERICA seed and grain production practices and make them available to project beneficiaries
  • Build capacities of rice scientists and technicians in order to strengthen national rice research and production”
Three key studies were designed to support the on-going processes and activities, i.e. i) seed; production, distribution, capacity among local producers ii) PVS; rice varietal selection, field learning processes and iii) information; packaging, review and dissemination.  The respective studies are i) indigenous seed institutions ii) evaluation of PVS and iii) gendered access to rice information through media.

AfricaRice is implementing the IFAD WCA Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Sierra Leone through core partnerships with INERA, IRAG and SLARI respectively. Other institutions involved include NGOs, extension organizations, ministries, farmer organisations, IFAD investment projects, universities, FAO and other projects e.g. EUcord and PARSAR, and the BTC.

Key themes of the project and the main outcomes from 2009 were highlighted in the meeting by the overall coordinator based in AfricaRice. Emphasis was placed on i) access to rice seed and ii) knowledge among smallholders iii) partnerships, especially for the sustainability of the project achievements iv) activities aimed to build capacities and iv) field researches.  Details for these themes were then presented by country teams.