Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The 41st Board of Trustees of AfricaRice immortalizes Dr Robert J. Carsky

At the 41st meeting of the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) Board of Trustees held at the Center’s M’bé station, near Bouaké in Côte d’Ivoire, Mrs Rebecca Khelseau-Carsky unveiled a plate naming the AfricaRice Library Building at M’bé after the late Dr Robert Carsky, as was recommended by the 25th Board of Trustees meeting held in March 2005. 

An annual award to honor the contribution and dedication of the late Dr Carsky, AfricaRice scientist, who lost his life while on active duty during the early days of the Ivorian civil, was instituted by AfricaRice in 2009.

The annual award is conferred on the most outstanding Internationally Recruited Staff (IRS) and General Support Staff (GSS), who have demonstrated high standards of excellence and made extraordinary contributions to rice research, training and research support. Dr Jonne Rodenburg, AfricaRice agronomist at the IRS level and Mrs Maimouna Diatta, French-English translator at the GSS level, received the 2017 Dr Robert Carsky award.

The unveiling of the memorial plate and the award ceremony were some of the highlights associated with the 41st Board meeting, 10 - 13 April 2017, which was chaired by Prof Eric Tollens. 

As part of the routine proceedings of the meeting, the Board Chair reported on his activities since the 40th Board meeting held in September 2016, highlighting issues that were Center-related, and those associated with his representation of AfricaRice in CGIAR events.

The Chair briefed the Board on activities of the various entities of the CGIAR System Organization, including CGIAR Trust Fund, the General Assembly of Centers, the Independent Evaluation Arrangement, the Independent Science and Partnership Council, the CGIAR Internal Audit function, the Partnership Forum, the System Council, the System Management Board and the System Management Office. Detailed information was provided on the outcome of the General Assembly of Centers held in January 2017, including the progress being made by the System Management Board and the outputs from its seven ad hoc working groups. 

AfricaRice Director General, Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, also reported on his achievements during the period spanning between September 2016 and April 2017. His report highlighted achievements in the following four major domains: advocacy; resource mobilization; coordination and facilitation; and CGIAR System Organization. He demonstrated how his various advocacy activities resulted in the mobilization of additional US$ 9.8 million dollars for the Center within the preceding six months. 

Dr Roy-Macauley expressed optimism about the ongoing negotiations with development partners in which additional resources up to US$ 26.8 million were expected. He reported on progress being made on the establishment of the new genebank at the M’bé station, the recruitment of a new Leader for the Genetic Diversity and Improvement Program, and the successful launch of the CGIAR Research Program on Rice Agri-Food Systems (RICE), amongst others. He also highlighted how the Center’s new strategic alliances with partner institutions would enhance the leveraging of investments. 

On the issue of finance, Dr Roy-Macauley underlined that the Centre continues to face financial challenges due to the drastic reductions in the CGIAR Research Program funding, the high costs related to the Center’s relocation from Benin to Côte d’Ivoire and the slow payment of arrears of member state contributions, which could have greatly helped in alleviating the situation. He reported that although the Center had taken several mitigating steps to ensure prudent management of its resources, it experienced yet another deficit and was left with 76 reserve days at the close of its books for the 2016 financial year. 

Dr Roy-Macauley also informed the Board that the Center’s workforce currently stood at 265 staff, with an increased number of staff now based in Côte d’Ivoire as the Center transitions from Benin. The Board was also informed that the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) had fully taken over the management of the Benin station, following the transfer of most of AfricaRice assets to its headquarters in Côte d’Ivoire. The Board was also briefed on the signing of a host-country agreement with Madagascar and a revised one with Senegal. 

On CGIAR System Organization issues, Dr Roy-Macauley informed the Board of his participation in finalizing some of the System’s governance documents and in the General Assembly of Centers in January 2017, which discussed issues relating to improving system- wide resource mobilization, financing and governance issues.

The 41st Board approved the 2016 financial results recording a deficit of US$ 2.24 million. It deferred its decision to approve the US$ 28.06 million 2017 working budget proposed by management – which it esteemed was not realistic due to assumptions which it considered as presenting a high risk of not being fulfilled – pending resubmission of (i) a more realistic budget taking into consideration cuts in unrestricted spending to the magnitude of US$ 1 million and (ii) the establishment of a three-year financial recovery plan. 

The Board also received and deliberated on the Center’s Programs report, which highlighted targets, milestones and strategy for achieving the goals of the RICE CGIAR Research Program, challenges related to the relocation to M’bé station and steps being taken by management to increase the volume of research activities at M’bé station with the increasing number of staff relocating from Benin to Côte d’Ivoire. 

During the closing ceremony attended by staff and Board members, the Board Chair presented highlights of the 41st Board meeting, emphasizing the prevailing financial challenges being faced by the Center and the need for the Center to continue to strive for excellence, stressing that similar financial difficulties were also being experienced by sister centers. The Chair encouraged the staff to remain resilient and competitive amongst their peers in the international research arena. 

On behalf of the Board, the Chair paid a glowing tribute to Dr Masaru Iwanaga and presented him with a Plaque in recognition of his valuable service to the Center as Board member and Chair of the Board’s Program Committee. Dr Iwanaga was rotating off the Board after serving two consecutive terms. 

Mr David Governey, an internationally experienced financial and operations professional and a Chartered Accountant, was welcomed as a full Board member at the 41st Board meeting.

Le 41e Conseil d’administration d'AfricaRice immortalise Dr Robert J. Carsky

Lors de la 41e réunion du Conseil d’administration (CA) d’AfricaRice, qui s’est tenue du 10 au 13 avril 2017 à la station du Centre à M’bé, Bouaké, en Côte d’Ivoire, Mme Rebecca Khelseau-Carsky a dévoilé la plaque baptisant « Dr Robert Carsky » le bâtiment de la bibliothèque d’AfricaRice à M’bé, conformément à la recommandation du 25e réunion du CA tenue en mars 2005.

En 2009, AfricaRice avait institué le Prix Carsky en honneur et à la mémoire de Dr Robert Carsky, un chercheur du Centre qui a perdu la vie au cours de la période initiale de la crise civile ivoirienne pendant qu’il était en service actif.

Le Prix annuel, est décerné aux agents recrutés au niveau international (IRS) et des services d’appui (GSS) les plus méritants, qui ont démontré de hautes qualités d’excellence, et fait des contributions exceptionnelles à la recherche rizicole, à la formation et à l’appui à la recherche. Dr Jonne Rodenburg, chercheur au niveau IRS et Mme Maimouna Diatta, traductrice anglais-français au niveau GSS à AfricaRice, ont reçu le prix Dr Robert Carsky pour 2017.

Le dévoilement de la plaque commémorative et la cérémonie de remise des prix ont été quelques-uns des points forts associés à la 41ème réunion du Conseil,  présidée par Prof. Eric Tollens.

Au cours de la réunion, le président du CA a présenté le rapport de ses activités depuis la 40eréunion du CA tenue en septembre 2016. Son rapport a mis en exergue les questions relatives au Centre et celles liées à sa représentation d’AfricaRice lors d’événements relatifs au CGIAR. 

Le président a briefé le CA sur les activités des différentes entités de l’Organisation du Système du CGIAR, dont le Fonds d’affectation spéciale du CGIAR, l’Assemblée générale des Centres (AG), le Dispositif d’évaluation indépendante, le Conseil indépendant de la science et du partenariat, la fonction d’audit interne du CGIAR, le Forum des partenariats, le Système du Conseil, le Conseil de gestion du Système (SMB) et le Bureau de gestion du Système. Des informations détaillées ont été fournies sur les conclusions de l’AG des Centres tenue en janvier 2017, y compris le progrès fait par le SMB, et les résultats des sept groupes de travail ad hoc du SMB.

Le Directeur général d’AfricaRice, Dr Harold Roy-Macauleya aussi présenté ses réalisations pendant la période qui va de septembre 2016 à avril 2017. Son rapport a mis en relief les réalisations dans les quatre principaux domaines suivants : plaidoyer, mobilisation de ressources, coordination et facilitation, et l’Organisation du Système du CGIAR. Il a démontré comment ses différentes activités de plaidoyer ont abouti à la mobilisation de 9,8 millions de dollars US supplémentaires pour le Centre au cours des six derniers mois.

Dr Roy-Macauley a exprimé son optimisme par rapport aux négociations en cours avec les partenaires au développement dans lesquelles davantage de ressources – à hauteur d’au moins 26,8 millions de dollars US – étaient attendues.

Dans le domaine de la Coordination et de la Facilitation, le Directeur général a présenté les progrès de la mise en place de la nouvelle Banque de gènes à la station de M’bé ; le recrutement d’un nouveau chef du programme de diversité génétique et amélioration (GDI) ; et le lancement réussi du Programme de recherche du CGIAR sur les systèmes agroalimentaires riz (RICE), entre autres. Il a aussi mis l’accent sur la manière dont les nouvelles alliances stratégiques avec les institutions partenaires permettraient d’améliorer l’optimisation des investissements.

Concernant la question des finances, le Directeur général a rappelé au CA que le Centre reste confronté à des difficultés financières dues aux réductions drastiques du financement des Programmes de recherche du CGIAR, aux coûts élevés du déménagement du Bénin en Côte d’Ivoire et à la lenteur du paiement des arriérés des cotisations des États membres, ce qui aurait pu contribuer à améliorer la situation. Il a rapporté que bien que le Centre a pris plusieurs mesures palliatives visant à assurer une gestion prudente de ses ressources, il a cependant enregistré un autre déficit, avec 76 jours de réserves à la clôture de l’exercice financier 2016.

Le Directeur général a aussi informé le CA que l’effectif des agents du Centre s’élève actuellement à 265 employés, avec un nombre élevé d’agents basés maintenant en Côte d’Ivoire dans le cadre du déménagement du Centre du Bénin. Le CA a été aussi informé que l’Institut international d’agriculture tropicale (IITA) a entièrement pris le contrôle de la gestion de la station du Bénin, suite au transfert de la plupart des biens d’AfricaRice à son siège en Côte d’Ivoire. Le CA a été aussi informé des réalisations relatives à la signature d’un accord de siège révisé avec le Sénégal, et d’un accord de siège avec Madagascar.

Par rapport aux questions de l’Organisation du Système du CGIAR, le Directeur général a informé le CA des rôles qu’il a joués dans la finalisation de certains documents de la gouvernance du Système et dans la réunion de l’Assemblée générale des Centres tenue en janvier 2017, et qui a débattu des questions relatives à l’amélioration de la mobilisation des ressources à l’échelle du Système, et celles portant sur les finances et la gouvernance.

La 41Session du CA a approuvé les résultats financiers enregistrant un déficit de 2,24 millions de dollars US. Par contre, le CA a reporté sa décision d’approuver le budget de fonctionnement 2017 proposé par le management et qui s’élève à 28,06 millions $ US. Le CA a estimé que ce budget n’était pas réaliste, car le risque qu’il ne soit pas réalisé était élevé. Le budget de fonctionnement sera accepté sous réserve d’une nouvelle soumission : (i) d’un budget plus réaliste qui tient compte des coupes des dépenses non restreintes à hauteur de 1 million de dollars US et (ii) la mise en place d’un plan de recouvrement financier de trois ans.

Le CA a aussi délibéré sur le rapport des programmes du Centre, qui a mis en exergue notamment les objectifs, les repères et la stratégie visant à atteindre les objectifs du Programme de recherche RICE du CGIAR, les défis liés à la relocalisation à la station de M’bé et les mesures prises par le management pour augmenter le volume des travaux de recherche menés à la station de M’bé avec l’augmentation du nombre d’agents relocalisés du Bénin en Côte d’Ivoire.

Pendant la cérémonie de clôture de la 41e réunion du CA à laquelle le personnel et les membres du CA ont pris part, le président du CA a informé le personnel des conclusions du 41e CA, en insistant sur les difficultés financières actuelles auxquelles le Centre se trouve confronté et la nécessité pour le Centre de poursuivre ses efforts pour atteindre l’excellence, en soulignant le fait que d’autres Centres frères étaient également confrontés à des situations financières similaires. Il a encouragé le personnel à rester résilient et compétitif parmi leurs pairs de la communauté de recherche internationale.

Au nom du CA, le président du CA a rendu un vibrant hommage à Dr Masaru Iwanaga, et lui a présenté une Plaque de reconnaissance pour ses services rendus au Centre en tant que membre du CA et président du Comité des Programmes du CA. Dr Iwanaga quittait le CA après avoir servi deux mandats consécutifs.

M. David Governey, fort d’une grande expérience professionnelle au niveau international en finances et opérations et expert-comptable, a été accueilli en tant que membre à part entière du CA lors de la 41e réunion.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

FAO representative in Côte d’Ivoire advocates rapid scaling up of AfricaRice technologies

Mr Germain Dasylva, FAO representative in Côte d’Ivoire, visited AfricaRice main research station at M’bé, near Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire on 20 April 2017 to get a more comprehensive understanding of AfricaRice's research-for-development activities and discuss areas for further collaboration. He was accompanied by Ms Antoinette Ziehi, FAO consultant.

The FAO delegation was warmly welcomed by Dr Olupomi Ajayi, designated by AfricaRice Deputy Director General Dr Eienne Duveiller to coordinate the arrangements for the visit.

Dr Ajayi gave an overview of AfricaRice activities and achievements, which was followed by presentations from AfricaRice experts on scalable rice technologies developed by AfricaRice, such as RiceAdvice decision support tool, ASI ricethresher, GEM parboiling technology and rice briquettes. A short presentation on the impact of AfricaRice technologies and innovations was also made.

The program included a visit to field demonstrations at the M’bé station and research facilities that are being rehabilitated as part of AfricaRice’s relocation process to Côte d’Ivoire. The visitors also had a tour of the state-of-the-art rice genebank that is being set up at M’bé.

Mr Dasylva greatly appreciated the scalable technologies, recognizing their importance for Africa. He advocated wider dissemination though promotional efforts at high-level meetings and agricultural exhibitions. FAO plays a key role in fostering partnerships for tackling issues of food insecurity, poverty reduction and sustainable agriculture.

Mr Dasylva was particularly interested to learn about the various types of technical support that AfricaRice provides to its member countries, particularly relating to varietal release and availability of seed. “This is because FAO would like to support small-scale lowland rice farmers to enable Côte d’Ivoire to exploit its huge potential of lowland,” explained Dr Ajayi.

FAO is an important development partner of AfricaRice. The two organizations have signed a MoU for scientific and technical cooperation in consolidating sustainable rice systems development in Africa during the 29th session of the FAO Regional Conference for Africa, in April 2016, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Monday, April 17, 2017

2017 AfricaRice Dr Robert Carsky Award

Ms Maimouna Diatta, French Translator-Editor, and Dr Jonne Rodenburg, Agronomist, received the 2017 AfricaRice Dr Robert Carsky Award on 13 April at the 41st Meeting of the AfricaRice Board of Trustees, M’bé Research Station, Côte d’Ivoire.

Ms Diatta was honored for her dedicated service and commitment to excellence. Dr Rodenburg was selected for his outstanding contributions to work on weed management in rice in Africa, strong publication record, support to resource mobilization, partnerships and outreach.

The annual award, which was instituted by AfricaRice in honor of the late Dr Robert Carsky, is conferred on the most outstanding General Support Staff and the most outstanding Internationally Recruited Staff, who have demonstrated high standards of excellence and made extraordinary contributions to rice research, training and research support.


Mrs Rebecca Khelseau-Carsky was invited to hand over the 2017 AfricaRice Dr Robert Carsky Award to the winners. She also unveiled a plaque at the AfricaRice Library, dedicating the building to the memory of Dr Robert Carsky.

  • Mrs Rebecca Khelseau-Carsky speaking at the 2017 AfricaRice Dr Robert Carsky Award ceremony (click here to listen )
  • 2017 AfricaRice Dr Robert Carsky Award : Dr Samuel Bruce-Oliver  announcing the winner in the GSS category (click here to listen )
  • 2017 AfricaRice Dr Robert Carsky Award : Dr Etienne Duveiller announcing the winner in the IRS category ( click here to listen )
  • Scenes from the 41st Meeting of the AfricaRice Board of Trustees, M’bé Research Station, Côte d’Ivoire ( click here to view the photos )

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Green Innovation Center for Agriculture and Food Sector: A solution to large-scale youth employment issues

Green Innovation Centers for Agriculture and Food Sector (GICAFS) have been set up in several countries under a special initiative of the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to promote innovation in the agricultural and food sectors in order to combat rural poverty and hunger.

The GICAFS-Benin, which is based at the AfricaRice station in Cotonou, has set up community teams in 21 communes in the country to strengthen innovation systems in agriculture and food sector. To closely monitor these teams, 133 young graduates from high schools and agricultural schools have been recruited.

A major objective of the GICAFS is to provide practical training to young graduates in agricultural innovations. For this, the graduates from central and southern Benin, who have been recruited for the GICAFS activities, were trained in Bohicon, from 13 to 22 February 2017, and those from northern Benin were trained in Parakou, from 6 to 10 March 2017.

It was an opportunity for the participants to become thoroughly familiar with the GICAFS objectives and activities. Presentations and hands-on courses were provided on information systems (wiki and database); the RUN business model for service provision; facilitation techniques in rural areas; farmer field school; and innovation guides relating to rice, soybean, maize, groundnut, poultry and oil palm.


These new graduates from agricultural schools and high schools are thus trained to work for eight months with 348 producer groups in the GICAFS project, in collaboration with 348 school dropouts included in these groups. Their responsibilities, relating to their respective areas of intervention, include:
  • Facilitating question and answer services for the benefit of producers in 173 arrondissements
  • Conducting practical training sessions on innovative technologies with the 348 groups
  • Conducting surveys
  • Sharing information with more than 50,000 producers
  • Collecting and exchanging data on prices and rainfall
  • Supporting the development of business plans
  • Creating a credit system at group level

It is important to highlight that the main objective of the GICAFS is to enable young people to strengthen their practical skills and develop their professional network in order to facilitate their integration into the labor market from the agricultural sector.

Centre des Innovations Vertes pour le secteur agro-alimentaire, une solution pour l’emploi des jeunes à grande échelle

Former de façon pratique des jeunes diplômés sur les innovations agricoles, c’est là ce que vise le Centre des Innovations Vertes pour le secteur Agro-alimentaire (CIVA) en organisant un atelier à Bohicon du 13 au 22 février 2017 et un autre à Parakou du 6 au 10 mars.

En effet, dans sa mission de renfoncer le système d'innovation du secteur agro-alimentaire, le CIVA a installé au Bénin des équipes communautaires dans 21 communes. Afin de pouvoir mieux suivre ces équipes 133 jeunes diplômés des lycées et écoles agricoles sont recrutés. C’est dans ce cadre que ceux du sud et du centre sont rassemblés et formés à Bohicon et ceux du nord à Parakou. 


C’était une occasion pour les participants d’avoir une parfaite connaissance du CIVA et de ses projets. Aussi, ils ont eu droit à des présentations et des cours pratiques sur les systèmes d’information (wiki et base de données), le modèle d’affaire RUN de prestation de services, les techniques d'animation en milieu rural, le champ école paysan, et le suivi des guides d’innovations des spéculations telles que le riz, le soja, le maïs, l’arachide, la volaille et le palmier à huile.

Nouvellement sortis des écoles et lycées agricoles, ces jeunes sont ainsi outillés grâce à cet atelier pour travailler pendant huit mois auprès de 348 groupements de producteurs dans le projet, et ceci en collaboration avec 348 jeunes déscolarisés inclus dans lesdits groupements. Leur mission consistera dans leurs zones d’intervention respectives à :
  • Animer les services question - réponse au profit des producteurs des 173 arrondissements
  • Réaliser des formations pratiques sur des technologies innovantes avec les 348 groupements
  • Faire des enquêtes d’exploitation
  • Partager des informations avec plus de 50 000 producteurs
  • Collecter et échanger des données relatives aux prix et à la pluviométrie
  • Apporter leur appui au développement des plans d’affaire
  • Fournir des services de synthèse de la campagne d’innovation
  • Créer un système de crédit au niveau des groupements
     
Pour conclure il est important de souligner que l’objectif majeur que vise le CIVA est de permettre aux jeunes de renforcer leurs compétences pratiques et de développer leur réseau professionnel en vue de faciliter leur insertion sur le marché de travail à partir du secteur agricole. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Japan-funded ‘RiceAdvice’ project benefits over 16,000 African farmers


Thanks to a 1-year project supported by the Government of Japan, 200 trained service providers have helped more than 16,000 rice farmers in Mali and Nigeria benefit from ‘RiceAdvice’, a customized crop management decision support tool, leading to increased productivity, efficiency and profits.

Developed by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), the RiceAdvice app, which can be freely downloaded through Google Play on Android smartphone or tablet device, generates tailor-made recommendations that help farmers in irrigated and relatively favorable rainfed lowland areas in Africa apply mineral fertilizer more efficiently in order to optimize production and profits and reduce waste.

Farmers’ efficient use of mineral fertilizer coupled with good agricultural practices is one of the keys to enhancing rice production in sub-Saharan Africa, where the average yield is around 2.1 t/ha. AfricaRice studies have shown that the adoption of RiceAdvice recommendations can increase rice yield by 0.6 to 1.8 t/ha in farmers’ fields.

According to Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)-Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI), which is one of the important project partners in Nigeria, a specific innovative element of RiceAdvice is that it is not only based on the agronomic conditions, but also on the financial capacity of the farmer.

CARI is helping deploy the RiceAdvice technology to over 9000 farmers in Nigeria through 97 trained service providers. “Farmers are happy with the significant improvement in yield and income that RiceAdvice has brought to them and are eager to continue with the service.”

Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, another key project partner, recounted a similar success story from Kouroumari area in Office du Niger, Mali, where 99% of the 600 farmers, who benefited from RiceAdvice, wish to reuse the service in 2017 and 44% of them are ready to pay between 250 F CFA (about 50 cents) and 10,000 F CFA (about US$16) for RiceAdvice recommendations.

These were some of the highlights that were presented at the project closing meeting held at AfricaRice-Cotonou research station on 22 February 2017. The meeting was organized to review progress and achievements, share experiences, and develop a follow-up plan after the project ends in March 2017.

About 20 participants representing the Japanese Embassy in Benin, GIZ-CARI, Institut d’economie rurale (IER), Syngenta Foundation, National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), Ahmadu Bello University and AfricaRice attended the meeting.

“We are pleased that nearly all the project targets have been achieved or even surpassed in some cases,” said Dr Kazuki Saito, AfricaRice agronomist and project coordinator. The project’s aim was to boost rice productivity, maximize rice farmers’ investment potential and catalyze youth employment, contributing to food security and social stability in the two countries.

Thanking the Government of Japan and the various partners for their strong support, Dr Saito reported on the progress made in the use of media tools for promoting RiceAdvice, which includes the production of a promotional video, the creation of a Facebook Page and the development of a dedicated website.

The participants discussed opportunities and constraints for outscaling and upscaling RiceAdvice in a sustainable manner. The issues covered related to the need for appropriate business models, coordination mechanisms and identification of new partners.

AfricaRice and its partners are analyzing the data from the project and are making follow-up field visits to assess the initial impact and identify mechanisms for the effective rollout of RiceAdvice in sub-Saharan Africa after the closure of the project.

Related links :

Le projet « RiceAdvice » financé par le Japon profite à plus 16 000 riziculteurs africains


Deux cent (200) prestataires de services formés ont aidé plus de 16 000 producteurs de riz au Mali et au Nigeria à bénéficier de « RiceAdvice » grâce à un projet d’un an appuyé par le gouvernement du Japon. Il s’agit là d’un outil d’aide à la décision pour la gestion des cultures, entraînant une productivité accrue, une meilleure efficacité et des profits élevés.
 
L’application RiceAdvice, qui peut être téléchargée gratuitement sur un smartphone ou une tablette à partir de Google Play, a été mise au point par le Centre du riz pour l’Afrique (AfricaRice). Elle génère des recommandations sur mesure qui aident les riziculteurs dans les zones irriguées et de bas-fonds pluviaux relativement favorables en Afrique à appliquer les engrais minéraux plus efficacement afin d’optimiser la production et les profits, et de réduire les pertes.
 
L’utilisation efficace des engrais minéraux par les producteurs, couplée à de bonnes pratiques agricoles, est l’une des clés pour améliorer la production rizicole en Afrique subsaharienne, où le rendement moyen est d’environ 2,1 t/ha. Les études d’AfricaRice ont montré que l’adoption des recommandations de RiceAdvice peut augmenter le rendement du riz de 0,6 à 1,8 t/ha dans les champs des paysans.
 
Selon Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)- Initiative pour un riz africain compétitif (CARI), qui est l’un des partenaires clés du projet au Nigeria, un élément spécifique innovateur de RiceAdvice est que cet outil n’est pas uniquement basé sur les conditions agronomiques, mais aussi sur la capacité financière du producteur.
 
CARI aide à déployer la technologie RiceAdvice auprès de plus de 9 000 producteurs au Nigeria à travers 97 prestataires de service formés. « Les producteurs sont satisfaits de l’amélioration significative du rendement et du revenu que RiceAdvice leur a apportée, et désirent vivement continuer avec ce service. »
 
La Fondation Syngenta pour une agriculture durable, un autre partenaire clé du projet, a raconté une expérience similaire réussie dans la zone de Kouroumari dans l’Office du Niger au Mali, où 99 % des 600 producteurs, qui ont bénéficié de RiceAdvice, souhaitent réutiliser ce service en 2017 et 44 % d’entre eux sont prêts à payer entre 250 F CFA (environ 50 centimes) et 10 000 F CFA (environ 16 US$) pour les recommandations de RiceAdvice.
 
C’était là certains des points saillants présentés à la réunion de clôture du projet tenue le 22 février 2017 à la station de recherche d’AfricaRice-Cotonou. La réunion a été organisée pour examiner les progrès et les réalisations, partager les expériences, et élaborer un plan de suivi après la fin du projet en mars 2017.
 
Environ 20 participants représentant l’Ambassade du Japon au Bénin, GIZ-CARI, l’Institut d’économie rurale (IER), la Fondation Syngenta, l’Institut national de recherche sur les céréales (NCRI), l’Université Ahmadu Bello et AfricaRice ont pris part à la réunion.
 
« Nous sommes heureux que presque tous les objectifs du projet ont été atteints ou même dépassés dans certains cas, » a déclaré Dr Kazuki Saito, agronome à AfricaRice et coordonnateur du projet. Le projet visait à accroître la productivité rizicole, à maximiser le potentiel des investissements des producteurs et à catalyser l’emploi des jeunes, en contribuant à la sécurité alimentaire et à la stabilité sociale dans les deux pays.
 
Remerciant le gouvernement du Japon et les différents partenaires pour leur soutien fort, Dr Saito a présenté les progrès faits dans l’utilisation des médias pour promouvoir RiceAdvice, ce qui inclut la production d’une vidéo promotionnelle, la création d’une page Facebook et la création d’un site Internet dédié.
 
Les participants ont discuté des opportunités et des contraintes pour la diffusion à grande échelle de RiceAdvice de manière durable. Les questions abordées ont porté sur la nécessité de modèles d’affaires appropriés, de mécanismes de coordination et l’identification de nouveaux partenaires.
 
AfricaRice et ses partenaires analysent les données du projet et font des visites de suivi sur le terrain pour évaluer l’impact initial et identifier les mécanismes en vue du lancement effectif de RiceAdvice en Afrique subsaharienne après la clôture du projet.
 
Liens utiles :

Thursday, March 2, 2017

UEMOA-funded AfricaRice project plans activities to boost West Africa’s rice sector

As part of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA)-funded project on rice sector development in West Africa, a review and planning meeting was organized, 27-28 February 2017, at the AfricaRice Training Center in Saint Louis, Senegal. 

The 3-year UEMOA project covering Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo is being implemented by AfricaRice within the framework of UEMOA’s agricultural policy (PAU).

The project aims at delivering eight outputs:
  1. Identification, production and distribution of rice varieties adapted to climate change and varieties with good grain quality
  2. Best rice crop management practices to increase productivity
  3. Good post-harvest practices to reduce losses and improve quality
  4. Introduction and adaptation of equipment (for land preparation, weeding, harvesting and transport of rice) and training of small and medium-scale enterprises in the manufacture of equipment
  5. Promote functional and sustainable contractual arrangements between the different rice value chain actors
  6. Capacity building and large-scale dissemination
  7. Development of regional instruments for improving information for food security, knowledge management and decision support tools for all stakeholders in the rice sector.
  8. Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation and Impact Assessment

The participants included eight country coordinators of the project and coordinators of the Africa-wide Rice Task Forces on Policy, Processing and Value Addition, and Mechanization. Discussions focused on the project’s second year results and work plans for the third year. AfricaRice and its partners are implementing the project activities through the Task Force and the Rice Sector Development Hub mechanisms. 

The meeting was chaired by the AfricaRice regional coordinator of the project Dr Karim Traoré. The UEMOA resident representative at Dakar, Mr Dossolo Diarra took an active part in the meeting and expressed his satisfaction and support for the pursuit of the project activities.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

AfricaRice and SLARI organize training in fabrication of ASI rice thresher in Sierra Leone

AfricaRice, in partnership with the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI), organized a training workshop, 1-10 Feb 2017, in Lunsar, Port Loko District, Sierra Leone, to strengthen the capacity of the local manufacturers to fabricate the ‘ASI’ rice thresher, which is one of the important improved post-harvest technologies for rice in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Manual rice threshing is common in SSA, where it is mainly carried out by women farmers. It is not only labor-intensive and back-breaking, but it also leads to heavy post-harvest crop losses. The ASI thresher was developed by AfricaRice and its partners to speed up post-harvest processes, produce a higher quality product, increase the marketability of local rice and lessen the burden of women.

At the Sierra Leone training workshop, two senior artisans, who were trained by AfricaRice in 2013 in Nigeria, coached five local fabricators, with technical support from the Africa Rice Mechanization Task Force focal point in SLARI, Mr Kemoh Bangura.

During the hands-on training, an ASI thresher was successfully constructed and tested at the workshop and all necessary technical adjustments were made. The thresher was subsequently tested at the Rokupr Agricultural Research Centre (RARC) in the presence of scientists, who were satisfied with the overall performance and output of the thresher.

The scientists found that the rice was well threshed with little or no grains remaining on the straw. They made several comments and recommendations which will be followed by the trained fabricators. The national media and SLARI communication unit were also invited to the ASI thresher testing session.

The training workshop was jointly supported by the Global Affairs Canada-funded project on “Support to Rice Research in Africa” and by the African Development Bank-funded project onSupport to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC).”  

Future activities will include a field trip to demonstrate the use of the ASI thresher to different stakeholders involved in the rice sector in Sierra Leone including extension agents, farmers’ organizations, rice processors’ organization, local fabricators, and rice traders.

Training of end-users, especially the youth, will be organized, on the use and maintenance of the thresher in the Rice Hubs and as service providers for farmers. The ASI thresher will also be evaluated for its gender-friendliness. The national media and SLARI communication unit will be invited to popularize the ASI thresher in Sierra Leone.

“It is expected that the training of local equipment manufacturers in the fabrication and out-scaling of this technology to the Rice Sector Development Hubs in Sierra Leone will enhance the timely execution of the threshing operation and substantially reduce post-harvest losses,” said Dr Olupomi Ajayi, AfricaRice Country Representative, Sierra Leone/ Rice Research Coordinator for Sierra Leone.

“The wide dissemination of the equipment will facilitate the involvement of private business in rice value chain activities and contribute to the creation of employment for the youth and women,” he added. “The use of the ASI thresher will also improve grain quality. This is very important as higher grain quality is a prerequisite for competitiveness against imports that cost Sierra Leone much valuable foreign exchange.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Centre d’Innovation Verte au Bénin à AfricaRice renforce les compétences techniques des artisans en matière de fabrication de la batteuse ASI

Renforcer les compétences techniques des artisans locaux en matière de fabrication de la batteuse-vanneuse ASI – mis au point par AfricaRice et ses partenaires – afin de faciliter aux producteurs le battage et le vannage du riz, voilà l’objectif principal de la formation qui s’est déroulé du 16 au 27 janvier 2017, au Centre Songhaï de Porto Novo.

En effet, afin de faciliter une meilleure adoption et d’assurer une large diffusion de la batteuse-vanneuse au Bénin, AfricaRice a introduit plusieurs équipements dans le milieu rizicole dont la batteuse-vanneuse (ASI), grâce au projet financé par le BMZ sur le Renforcement des capacités de formation professionnelle pour l'emploi des jeunes dans le secteur du riz au Bénin (GIAE2) du Centre d’Innovation Verte au Bénin.

C’est dans ce cadre qu’une formation a été organisée. Et elle a regroupé plus de douze artisans venus des départements de l’Alibori, du Borgou, des Collines et du Zou ; ainsi que des structures de fabrication de matériels agricoles et d’ONG dont la COBEMAG, et DEDRAS ONG.

Lors de cette formation les participants ont pris connaissance entre autres de ce que c’est que les batteuses à riz, de leur mode de fonctionnement, des différents types de batteuse avec leur spécificité, du mode de fonctionnement de la batteuse vanneuse ASI et de ses aspects économiques.

A partir des connaissances acquises, ils ont durant cette formation fabriqué deux batteuses – vanneuses de grand format. Sous le regard du coordonnateur du projet, Dr Bert Meertens, les deux machines ont été testées avec succès.
A la fin de la formation, les participants ont tous exprimé leur joie et leur satisfaction.

SANNI Moussa Kassimou est artisan soudeur basé au nord du Bénin dans la commune de Sinendé. Il a l’habitude de fabriquer des égreneuses-batteuses, des charrues décortiqueuses, des abreuvoirs, des moulins à mais, et des charrettes. « Auparavant je ne pouvais pas fabriquer de batteuse-vanneuse », nous a-t-il confié avant d’ajouter : « Mais aujourd’hui grâce à cette formation, je peux bien fabriquer cela. Je suis donc très content d’avoir participé à cette formation. » 

Quant à CESSI MAMA Aboubakar, il est venu de la Coopérative Béninoise des Matériels Agricoles (COBEMAG), basée à Parakou. Selon lui, cette formation est très utile pour la COBEMAG en ce sens qu’elle fabriquait déjà de décortiqueuse et de batteuse de riz, mais de format moyen. Il a ensuite précisé : « Cette formation va donc nous permettre de fabriquer des batteuses–vanneuses de haute gamme comme ce que nous avons fait ensemble ici. Et je profite pour dire merci à AfricaRice. »

Précisons que la fin de la formation a été sanctionnée par une cérémonie de remise de certificat aux artisans formés qui ont reçu la mission d’aller former d’autres artisans.




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

USAID-AfricaRice Seed Scaling Project trains over 200 farmers and technicians in rice seed production techniques in Liberia

The USAID-funded Seed Scaling project implemented by AfricaRice in Liberia is addressing the important issue of good quality rice seed production in Liberia to increase rice production and achieve rice self-sufficiency in the country.

Four training sessions of out-growers related to seed production, processing, certification and marketing were organized in the four major rice seed production Counties, namely Nimba, Bong, Grand Bassa and Lofa during September to November 2016.


The AfricaRice Rice Seed System Specialist, Dr Simon-Pierre Nguetta, gave an overview of the various themes relating to seed production, processing, certification and marketing during the training programs, while technicians from USAID and extension agronomists from the Ministry of Agriculture organized farmers in groups for field trips, practical exercises. The field trip provided a good opportunity for farmers to understand better the problems observed in the field during seed production and how these problems can be solved to produce good quality seed.


The training program focused on the following topics related to the production of good quality seed:
  • Importance of good quality seed;
  • Different categories of seed;
  • Why farmers should use good quality seed;
  • Land preparation and water management;
  • Time of planting;
  • Planting and crop establishment;
  • Soil fertility management;
  • Weeds, disease, pest management and period of harvesting;
  • Threshing, drying, cleaning, packaging and storage;
  • Administrative procedures (registration of plot and proof of origin of seed);
  • Technical standards requirements (field inspection, post-harvest inspection, laboratory seed testing and grant of certificate and tagging);
  • Rice seed standards and protocols (specific isolation distance requirement, condition for field crop inspection, required minimum field inspection and minimum standards for laboratory seed testing of major crops in Liberia);
  • Marketing of quality seed (marketing channels, basic principles in seed trade, harmonized seed rules and regulations in ECOWAS States).

A total of 212 participants including 201 farmers (147 male and 54 female) and 11 technicians and extension agronomists (9 male and 2 female) attended the training program in the four Counties. According to the organizers and the participants, this was an important workshop to share knowledge about seed production, processing, marketing and especially the certification process. Higher quantities of good quality rice seed in Liberia are expected as a result of this AfricaRice project activity. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Africa’s rice farmers lose $200 million annually to parasitic weeds

An international team of researchers representing the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Wageningen University, has raised the alarm over the enormous economic impact of parasitic weeds on rice production in Africa, threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of resource-poor rice farmers and consumers in the region.

Smallholder farmers in the continent are losing every year half a million tons of rice worth about US $200 million because of parasitic weeds. This is roughly equivalent to the annual rice consumption of Liberia, a low-income country, which is highly dependent on rice imports. If the rice lost due to the parasitic weeds had been saved, it would have been enough to feed the total population of Liberia (4.5 million people) for a whole year.

Parasitic weeds are among the most destructive and problematic weeds to control. “When these plants invade food crops, they turn into ferocious weeds,” said Dr Jonne Rodenburg, Agronomist at AfricaRice.  The most important parasitic weed species in rice are Striga asiaticaS. asperaS. hermonthica and Rhamphicarpa fistulosa. They are all endemic to Africa and can also parasitize other cereal crops like maize, sorghum and millet.

The team of researchers reveal that these parasitic weeds, which survive by siphoning off water and nutrients from host crops, have invaded 1.34 million hectares of rainfed rice in Africa, affecting an estimated 950,000 rural households. They are increasingly becoming severe due to an intensification of agricultural production and climate changes.

The areas affected by parasitic weeds are home to some of the world’s poorest farmers. Studies by AfricaRice and partners have shown that parasitic weeds seem to predominantly affect women farmers in Africa as they are often forced to grow rice on the most marginal and parasitic weed-infested plots.

Parasitic weeds threaten rice production in at least 28 countries in Africa that have rainfed rice systems. The most affected countries are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone Tanzania and Uganda.

The researchers warn that these parasites are spreading fast in the rainfed rice area and if nothing is done to stop them in their tracks, the damage will increase by about US $30 million a year.

These findings were revealed in a recent article by Rodenburg, Demont, Zwart and Bastiaans, entitled “Parasitic weed incidence and related economic losses in rice in Africa,” published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 235 (306-317). It is published as open access (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016788091630528X).

Rice is the second most important source of calories in Africa. It is also critical for smallholder incomes. Demand for rice is growing at a rate of more than 6% per year – faster than for any other food staple in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), because of changes in consumer preferences and urbanization. Rice production is increasing across SSA, but the continent still imports some 40% of its rice.

Until now, there has been little information on the regional spread and economic importance of parasitic weeds in rice in Africa. “We have presented in this article best-bet estimates on the distribution as well as the agronomic and economic impact of parasitic weeds in rice in Africa,” explained Dr Rodenburg. “In fact, this is the first multi-species, multi-country impact assessment of parasitic weeds in Africa.”

The article focuses on the four most important parasitic weeds in rice. Striga species – known under the common name “witchweed” – occur in at least 31 countries with rain-fed upland rice systems.  Rhamphicarpa fistulosa – known under the common name “rice vampireweed” – threatens rice production in at least 28 countries with rainfed lowland rice systems.

Dr Sander Zwart, AfricaRice Remote sensing and Geographic information systems specialist, explained that for this study, a map of rainfed rice production areas, compiled from different databases, was overlapped with parasitic weed observation data retrieved from public herbaria to visualize regional distribution of these four important parasitic weeds.

From this overlap, probabilities of actual infestation were estimated. These estimates together with secondary data on parasite-inflicted crop losses and efficacy of weed control were combined into a stochastic impact assessment model.

The knowledge acquired on the distribution as well as the agronomic and economic impact of parasitic weeds in rice in Africa underlines the importance of finding effective measures to control these pests through research.

AfricaRice and its partners have been investigating and developing efficient parasitic weed management strategies that are affordable and feasible for resource-poor rice farmers. “A range of high-yielding, short-cycle, farmer-preferred rice varieties have been identified with resistance or tolerance to different species and ecotypes of Striga, as well as varieties with good defense against R. fistulosa,” said Dr Rodenburg.

He explained that such varieties can be combined with different agronomic measures, such as late sowing (against R. fistulosa) or early sowing (against Striga), and the use of organic soil fertility amendments. Growing a leguminous cover crop such as Stylosanthes guianensisand following a zero-tillage approach also contribute to effective control of Striga, as demonstrated by agronomic experiments conducted by AfricaRice and its partners.

To study institutional and socio-economic constraints underlying the challenge posed by the parasitic weeds, and to raise awareness and improve communication on efficient management strategies, AfricaRice and its partners have brought together stakeholders, including national research institutes, extension services, crop protection services and private sector representatives in workshops in East and West Africa. 

At a time where there is a decline in public sector investments in agricultural research, efficient targeting of resources is becoming increasingly important. “The results of our studies emphasize the importance of targeted investments in further research, the development and dissemination of control technologies and capacity building of farmers, extension agents and other stakeholders, to reverse the observed trend of increasing parasitic weeds in rice,” stated Dr Rodenburg.