“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.