Sunday, May 31, 2015

AfricaRice recognized as an important partner of Madagascar

“We are immensely gratified that AfricaRice has been recognized as an important partner of the government of Madagascar to help realize its vision of becoming the rice granary of the Indian Ocean,” said Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley during his recent visit to the country. “AfricaRice is best placed to contribute to this goal.”

Madagascar and AfricaRice have forged close ties since 2010, when the country joined AfricaRice. Dr Lala Razafinjara, Director General of FOFIFA – the main component of the national agricultural research system in Madagascar – is heading the Program Committee of the AfricaRice Board of Trustees.

The AfricaRice delegation led by Dr Roy-Macauley was received in audience by the President of Madagascar and had discussions with the Honorable Minister of Agriculture of Madagascar Mr Roland Ravatomanga and the FOFIFA rice team.

The delegation also met with representatives of the African Development Bank, the Government of Japan, the Food andAgriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD) of France.  

Dr Roy-Macauley participated in an official ceremony chaired by the Honorable Minister of Agriculture in Antsirabe on 22 May 2015, where two new cold-tolerant rice varieties – named FOFIFA 183 and FOFIFA 184 – were released. These varieties were developed in collaboration with FOFIFA, as part of the ‘Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia’ (STRASA) project, supported by the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation.

The ceremony also provided an opportunity to AfricaRice to present a range of agricultural equipment for the Rice Hubs of Ambohibary and Ankazomiriotra in the Vakinankaratra region of Madagascar as part of the collaborative project on the Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC), funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Rice is both the main crop and the staple food of the majority of the population of Madagascar. Per capita rice consumption is about 138 kg per year in the villages and about 118 kg in cities. Once self-sufficient, the country has been a net-importer of rice since 1980. Major constraints to rice production include lack of access to agricultural equipment, good quality seed, mineral fertilizers and a range of biotic and abiotic stresses, such as low temperature or cold.

AfricaRice scientists based in Madagascar are closely working with FOFIFA scientists to address these challenges. Madagascar is increasingly benefitting from collaborative R4D activities carried out by AfricaRice and its partners with support from several donors, including the AfDB, Japan, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the CGIAR Research Program on Rice known as the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP).

FOFIFA is involved in the Africa-wide Rice Task Forces convened by AfricaRice, particularly focused on rice breeding and agronomy, in line with its priorities. It has welcomed the approach of the Rice Sector Development Hubs to achieve greater coherence and impact.

Thanking the Minister of Agriculture and the Director General of FOFIFA as well as all the partners supporting the rice sector in Madagascar, Dr Roy-Macauley said that AfricaRice sees Madagascar as the regional center for rice research and development for the countries of the Indian Ocean.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rice component of AfDB SARD-SC project reviewed

An in-depth discussion involving the African Development Bank (AfDB) delegation, AfricaRice and INRAB researchers, actors of the rice value chain engaged in the AfDB-funded project on CGIAR-Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC) was held during the project mid-term review meeting, 5-6 May 2015, at AfricaRice, Cotonou, Benin. 

Dr Samuel Bruce-Oliver, AfricaRice Director of Partnerships and Capacity Strengthening Dr Samuel Bruce-Oliver delivered the opening remarks on behalf of AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley at the SARD-SC Review Meeting. Dr Bruce-Oliver underlined that the SARD-SC project is extremely important for AfricaRice and that it has the full support of the AfricaRice management. "Thanks to the SARD-SC project, promising rice tools, technologies and innovations have been developed and the priority now is to put them in the hands of the end-users. We also need to ensure that the innovation platforms function very well within the rice value chain." (Listen to the audio)

Participants included members of the AfDB delegation comprising Dr Ibrahim Amadou, Task Manager,  Mr Mohamed Usman, Principal Procurement Manager, Abbah Jafar, Principal Disbursement Manager), SARD-SC Project Coordinator Dr Chris Akem, Coordinator of the rice component of the SARD-SC project Dr Sidi Sanyang, INRAB Focal Points of Rice Task Force and coordinator of Africa Rice Task Forces as well as representatives of rice millers, parboilers, traders, extension workers, micro-credit organization, farmers, seed producers, equipment services, fabricators and officials.

Dr Sidi Sanyang made a presentation on the ‘Highlights of achievements and perspectives of the rice value chain’ (see PowerPoint presentation), which was followed by presentations on baseline report, procurement and finance. The AfDB perspectives on fine-tuning the project represented a major highlight of the program.

The delegation had a guided tour of the rice parboiling demonstration by women rice processors from the Glazoué Rice Hub in Benin and the postharvest machinery section of AfricaRice.