According to Mr Tijani, this was an opportune time to hold the meeting, as African countries are expecting concrete results from this partnership to lift the rice sector in Africa. “There is a significant and increasing demand for assistance from countries in sub-Saharan Africa so that they can achieve self-sufficiency in rice.”
Extending a warm welcome to the delegation, AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley said, “The main aim of the meeting is to consolidate the partnership and agree on developing plans for joint activities with concrete outputs that will contribute to the sustainable development of rice-based systems in Africa.”
The discussion, which was led by Dr Roy-Macauley, focused on the following topics with brief presentations by AfricaRice scientists:
- General status of implementation of the MoU signed between AfricaRice and FAO
- AfricaRice contributions to the implementation of the Initiative on sustainable development of rice-based systems in Africa
- Progress on the organization of a high-level ministerial (HLM) meeting on rice
- Establishment of the Africa Rice Biodiversity Center at AfricaRice main research station in Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire
- Establishment of the Africa Rice Capacity Development Megapole at AfricaRice research station in Saint Louis, Senegal
The meeting concluded with the following decisions, among others:
- AfricaRice and FAO focal points will work together to include a framework of indicators for the MoU.
- Additional areas for partnership, such as improving the nutritional quality of rice-based diets through biofortification, processing, and dietary diversification, will be included
- The implementation of the Initiative on sustainable development of rice-based systems in Africa will be done in close association with key partners, notably the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), regional and country partners and donors
- The innovations developed by AfricaRice and its partners along the rice value chain will be considered for inclusion in joint projects, including the “Partnership for Sustainable Rice Systems Development in Sub-Saharan Africa” project
- AfricaRice and FAO, in consultation with the African AUC, NEPAD and AfDB, will continue to follow up on the preparations for the organization of a high-level ministerial meeting on rice, which aims to put rice prominently on Africa’s political agenda.
- FAO will explore the possibility of using the Africa Rice Capacity Development Megapole. AfricaRice will give to FAO more details on this multi-capacity development center.
- FAO will explore the possibility of supporting the Africa Rice Biodiversity Center, which is being established at Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire
“AfricaRice is actively contributing through its various rice research-for-development projects to the Initiative on sustainable development of rice-based systems in Africa and we are looking forward to jointly implement the MoU by leveraging our comparative advantages,” Dr Roy-Macauley stated.
On behalf of FAO, Mr Tijani expressed his deep appreciation for the meeting. “This forward-looking discussion is very important to us on how we can move forward on various initiatives on sustainable rice development.”
Mr Tijani was accompanied by members from the FAO Regional Office in Africa (Mohamed Ag Bendech, Senior Nutrition Officer; Suffyan Koroma, Senior Trade Economist; and Koffi Amegbeto, Senior Policy Officer) as well as from FAO-Côte d’Ivoire (Germain Dasylva, FAO Country Representative in Côte d’Ivoire; Pascal Sanginga, Senior Investment Support Officer) and from FAO headquarters in Rome (Peter Atimka Anaadumba, Program Officer (Economist), South-South Cooperation and Resource Mobilization Division).