Dr Kazuki Saito, AfricaRice agronomist from Japan, was awarded the Agropolis Foundation's Louis Malassis Young Promising Scientist Prize in a ceremony held on 16 March 2015 in Montpellier, France, during the Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture 2015.
Named after Louis Malassis, a renowned French agronomist and agricultural economist who was an ardent supporter of farmers’ cause, the Prize recognizes exemplary and promising contributions of scientists in the field of agriculture and food. It consists of two categories – Distinguished Scientist and Young Promising Scientist.
Accepting the Louis Malassis Prize from Mr Henri Carsalade, Chair of the Board, Agropolis Foundation, Saito said, “I want to thank Agropolis Foundation for this incredible honor. This honor must be shared with all those who have worked with me and supported me. I recognize that our work within the Africa rice agronomy network with national partners has just begun. We have a huge challenge in front of us. I will continue to work hard to make a positive difference in rice production in Africa and in farmers’ livelihoods.”
Saito is the driving force behind the Africa-wide Rice Agronomy Task Force, convened by AfricaRice, which is conducting activities in 21 countries across Africa. Yield-gap survey protocols for the Agronomy Task Force, developed under Saito’s leadership, are currently being used in these countries by national research institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. The results from the surveys are enabling AfricaRice and its partners to identify the opportunities available to introduce technologies to close yield gaps.
Saito is involved in climate risk assessment and R&D priority setting for rice in Africa. He has developed a decision support application (app) for providing African farmers with field-specific management guidelines called ‘RiceAdvice.’ He is also leading a team that has developed the first version of a yield gap map for rice in nine African countries in the ‘Global Yield Gap Atlas’ website.
AfricaRice Deputy Director General Dr Marco Wopereis said “Saito has always shown determination, stamina and leadership in conducting field research in close collaboration with researchers and farmers, leading to tangible results often under difficult circumstances.”
Saito has been actively involved in training researchers, extension workers and students in themes relating to agronomy, including making use of smart phones to facilitate data entry and recognition of symptoms of pests, diseases and nutrient disorders in the field.
“Saito is a worthy recipient of the prestigious Louis Malassis Young Promising Scientist Prize and the AfricaRice family is very proud of his achievements,” AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley said.
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