Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Africa needs AfricaRice expertise and innovations to achieve rice self-sufficiency: Chair of AfricaRice Council of Ministers

During his first visit to AfricaRice  headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 11-13 November 2016, in his capacity as the new Chair of AfricaRice Council of Ministers, Senegal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Equipment H.E.Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, stated that AfricaRice has a historic responsibility to help its member countries achieve rice self-sufficiency.

In August 2016, Senegal took over the chairmanship of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers, which is the supreme governing body of AfricaRice. The Center is an intergovernmental association of 26 African member countries. It is also a CGIAR Research Center – part of a global research partnership for a food-secure future.

The main objective of Dr Seck’s visit to AfricaRice was to participate in the handover ceremony, where he received documents relating to the chairmanship. Extending a warm welcome to him, AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley said, “This is a great honor for AfricaRice as it is not customary for the Chair of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers to visit, but this shows Dr Seck’s special bond with the Center.”

Before being appointed as the Senegal Minister for Agriculture and Rural Equipment, Dr Seck was AfricaRice Director General from 2006 to 2013. Addressing the AfricaRice staff, Dr Seck said, “Rice has become a strategic crop for Africa and the continent will continue to depend on AfricaRice to address major rice challenges as individual countries do not have such capacity.”

“Agriculture is truly an instrument for transformation and AfricaRice is strengthening the food security of millions of Africans through its research,” Dr Seck added. He highlighted that Africa’s rice (paddy) production is expected to reach a record of more than 29 million tons in 2016, a 4 percent increase over last year’s production.

Giving the example of Senegal’s recent success in rice production, Dr Seck remarked, “Thanks to improved technologies developed by AfricaRice, rice is now being produced throughout the country, whereas traditionally rice was produced only in the northern part of the country and a little bit in the South.”

He explained that AfricaRice scientists in close association with their national partners are directly or indirectly contributing to the structural transformation of agriculture in Senegal and the rest of Africa.

Dr Seck urged the member countries, which are benefiting from AfricaRice technologies, to honor their obligations. He also called for strong support for the Center from the African regional economic communities and international donors. “Support to the rice sector in Africa is vital because the continent will be the world’s future rice granary.”

During the visit, Dr Seck and AfricaRice Director General Dr Roy-Macauley met with the Ivorian Minister of Agriculture H.E. Mr Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly to thank him and the government for all the support to the Center. Recommendations were made to further strengthen the collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture of Côte d’Ivoire and the Center.

They also met with the Ivorian Minister of African Integration H.E. Mr Ally Coulibaly. Dr Seck thanked the Minister for the relentless efforts made by him and his team to facilitate the payment of the contribution promised by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to AfricaRice for the relocation from Benin to Côte d’Ivoire. Plans were made to further strengthen the collaboration.  

Dr Seck’s visit also included a meeting with Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank. Dr Adesina emphasized that AfricaRice should lead the process of transforming the rice sector in the continent and develop a comprehensive plan with African countries for continental rice self-sufficiency.

Dr Seck had working sessions with the AfricaRice Director General and his team to develop a road map for his 2-year term as CoM Chair. Before concluding his visit, Dr Seck declared, “I am very confident about AfricaRice’s future and I have great faith in Dr Roy-Macauley’s leadership and his dedicated staff.” 

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