A delegation led by Mr Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, visited the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) on 22 October 2014 to explore opportunities for strategic collaboration for a regional rice program for Africa under the umbrella of the Coalition for AfricanRice Development (CARD).
FAO is seeking to build a broad partnership with governments, the private sector, research institutions, producer organizations and donors to develop an efficient, productive and sustainable rice-growing sector in the continent.
“AfricaRice will be a key partner in this initiative, as recommended by African Ministers of Agriculture and other partners,” said Mr Tijani. “We believe that any change in Africa’s rice sector will begin with innovation from AfricaRice.”
He was accompanied by Dr Yo Tiémoko, FAO Representative in Benin and former AfricaRice Board member; Mr Sourakata Bangoura, South-South and Triangular Cooperation Officer; and Mr Joas Fiodehoume, Executive Associate, Office of the ADG.
Extending a warm welcome to the delegation, AfricaRice Interim Director General Dr AdamaTraoré said, “We are proud of the long tradition of partnership between AfricaRice and FAO and we share a common vision for regional rice development in Africa.”
Dr Traoré remarked that this high-level visit from FAO to AfricaRice, which follows on the visit of the FAO Director General Dr José Graziano da Silva in November 2013, will help build stronger synergies to boost regional rice development.
AfricaRice Deputy Director General Dr Marco Wopereis presented to the delegation a brief overview of the rice research-for-development strategy of AfricaRice, focusing on the continent-wide rice sector development hub network convened by the Center under the CGIAR Research Program on Rice known as the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP).
“Thanks to the unique model of AfricaRice, which is a pan-African organization of 25 member countries as well as an international Center, it has a tremendous leveraging capacity for rice research, development and training,” Dr Wopereis explained.
Dr Samuel Bruce-Oliver, AfricaRice Director of Partnership and Capacity Strengthening underlined the need for greater coherence of rice development efforts in Africa.
The Declaration of the Third Africa Rice Congress held in October 2013 emphasizes the need for FAO to play a more prominent role in stimulating national, regional and global partnerships to develop Africa’s rice sector, as part of the efforts of CARD and under the overall framework of the Comprehensive AfricaAgriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
After a fruitful discussion and decision to develop a joint action plan, the delegation had a guided tour of the experimental fields and the postharvest machinery section of AfricaRice.
Impressed with the recent achievements of AfricaRice, such as the new generation of high-performing rice varieties launched under the ‘ARICA’ brand and the small-scale, locally adapted postharvest machinery and processing equipment, Mr Tijani said, “AfricaRice has excellent research findings and innovation to out-scale and replicate in countries across Africa.”
Scenes from the High-level visit from FAO to AfricaRice: