The Director General of Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, is leading a delegation to Côte d’Ivoire to announce the return of the AfricaRice headquarters from Cotonou, Benin, to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, as directed by the Center’s Board of Trustees.
“We wish to officially inform Ivorian Government authorities and the population as a whole of the AfricaRice Board of Trustees’ decision on the imminent return of AfricaRice from its temporary to its permanent headquarters in Côte d’Ivoire,” said Dr Roy-Macauley.
The Board decision is in line with Resolutions of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers, which is the highest oversight body of the Center. AfricaRice is an intergovernmental association of 25 African member countries. It is also one of the 15 international agricultural research Centers that are members of the CGIAR Consortium.
It was constituted as the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) in the early 1970s by 11 West African countries. Recognizing the strategic importance of rice for Africa and the effective geographic expansion of the Center, its Council of Ministers decided in 2009 to change the Center’s name to “Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)”.
Since 1987, the Center was operating from its headquarters in M’bé, near Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire. In December 2004, because of the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, the AfricaRice Board decided to relocate all headquarters staff, temporarily to Cotonou, Benin.
This decision to return to Côte d’Ivoire, therefore, marks a historic milestone for AfricaRice. It followed months of discussions with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, close monitoring of the evolving security situation in the country, and an analysis of the financial and programmatic implications of the move.
The Government of Côte d’Ivoire generously offered AfricaRice a building in Abidjan to house the new headquarters in recognition of the pan-African status of the Center. The main research station will still be at M’bé. The government also provided financial support to defray part of the transfer costs.
The directive given by the Board was for the Director General and Management team to transfer the offices of the Director General, the Deputy Director General as well as the Central Directors (Research, Partnerships & Capacity Strengthening and Corporate Services) to the new headquarters building by September 2015.
A phased return of research activities from Cotonou to the Center’s 700-hectare research complex at M’bé, is envisaged based on sound strategic and an in-depth cost analysis of the rehabilitation and development of the M’bé research station, which will be approved by the Board during its September meeting in 2015.
The M’bé station, which has all the main rice-growing agro-ecologies, has until now been maintained by a small technical team under the supervision of a regional representative. For the past few years, activities carried out at the M’bé station has focused on the production of foundation seeds within the context of enhancing the access to quality rice seeds, following demands made by several AfricaRice member countries.
The return of the AfricaRice headquarters to Côte d’Ivoire not only signals the return to stability but also the economic emergence of the country. The presence of AfricaRice will contribute to job creation, especially amongst the youth, in the science domain.
The relative proximity of the country to newly generated rice scientific knowledge, technologies, tools, methods, practices and policy options, as well as easy access to training opportunities for strengthening capacities of the different categories of actors involved in the rice value chain, offered by AfricaRice, will contribute to boosting the rice sector in the country in general.
“The government has pledged strong support to AfricaRice and this is of mutual interest as the country has set an ambitious target to achieve rice self-sufficiency and be a rice exporter by 2018,” stated AfricaRice Board member Dr Séraphin Kati-Coulibaly, Director General of Scientific Research and Technological Innovation, Ivorian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
“We wish to convey our deep appreciation to the Ivorian government and people and confirm that we are equally committed to helping the country achieve its objective of rice self-sufficiency in 2018,” Dr Roy-Macauley stated.
In addition to meeting with Government authorities, the AfricaRice Director General and members of his delegation will also interact with research and development partners, including among others the following organizations:
· National Office for the Development of Rice (ONDR)
· National Agency for Support to Rural Development (ANADER)
· National Agricultural Research Center (NARC)
· Interprofessional Fund for Agricultural Research and Advice (FIRCA), executing agency of West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP-Côte d’Ivoire)
· Directorate of scientific research and technological innovation of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research,
· University Felix Houphouet-Boigny,
· Nangui Abrogoua University
· Research Institute for Development (IRD)
· Centre for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development (CIRAD)
· African Development Bank (AfDB)
· World Bank
· International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and
· Organization of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
The delegation will also visit the AfricaRice research station in M’bé and meet with the local authorities and staff.
“Given that Côte d’Ivoire is fast becoming the powerhouse for rice production in the Mano River region in particular, AfricaRice is very happy at the prospects of returning home and playing a strategic role in contributing to delivering on the exciting rice development agenda, building on existing and new partnerships,” said Dr Roy-Macauley.
AfricaRice is one of the 15 international agricultural research Centers that are members of the CGIAR Consortium. It is also an intergovernmental association of African member countries.
The Center was created in 1971 by 11 African countries. Today its membership comprises 25 countries, covering West, Central, East and North African regions, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Uganda.
AfricaRice staff are based in Cote d’Ivoire as well as in Benin, Liberia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. For more information visit: www.AfricaRice.org