Saturday, September 24, 2011

AfricaRice 40th anniversary celebration

To coincide with the CoM, the Center’s 40th anniversary was celebrated in Banjul, Gambia on 24 September, under the theme ‘40 years of rice research at the service of Africa’. It was fitting that the anniversary was commemorated in Gambia — one of the founding members of the Association and one of the main supporters of local rice on the continent.

AfricaRice’s celebration was inaugurated by the Minister of Trade of Gambia in the presence of the outgoing and incoming CoM chairmen, other representatives of the CoM, members of the diplomatic corps and donor community, national and international researchers, development partners, the private sector and farmers’ organizations.

At the inauguration, the farsightedness of the founding members of the Association was praised, the main achievements of the Association despite all the problems it has faced over the 40 years were highlighted, and the dedicated contribution of past and present management, staff and partners, including donors, was gratefully acknowledged.

The second half of the program, which was chaired by the AfricaRice Board Chairman, included a keynote address on ‘Fostering small-scale rice production for food’, by Josué Dioné, Director of Food Security and Sustainable Development at UNECA. In his address, Dr Dione emphasized that fostering small-scale rice production requires the adoption of a regionally coordinated value-chain approach to investing in technologies, infrastructure, institutions and policies.

As part of the celebration program, Dr Dione officially released the AfricaRice book Lessons from the Rice Crisis: Policies for a food secure Africa, which was published for the occasion. The book describes how the policy research and advocacy conducted by AfricaRice immediately before and during the 2008 rice crisis were influential in providing adequate information and options.

The program also included a panel discussion on ‘Investments in small-scale rice value chains: Challenges and opportunities’. The panelists represented the entire range of the rice value chains, bringing attention to the need for a holistic approach to the rice sector, taking into account the needs and priorities of all the actors of the value chain.