Monday, December 15, 2008

Ethiopia recognizes Africa Rice Center’s contribution

On the occasion of the Ethiopian Millennium and the 40th Anniversary of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Africa Rice Center was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for its “invaluable cooperation and support” to the country’s rice research and development activities.

Ethiopia is emerging as an important rice growing country in Eastern Africa. The area under rice production in Ethiopia is estimated to have increased from 49,000 ha in 2007 to about 90,000 ha in 2008. It is projected to reach 400,000 ha by 2010.

Key to this success has been the immense effort made by Dr Tareke Berhe, Director of the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA)’s regional rice program and his colleagues. Dr Berhe was instrumental in introducing improved rice varieties in the country, especially the upland  NERICA varieties developed by Africa Rice Center.

Between 2005 and 2007, four upland  NERICA varieties from Africa Rice Center were released to Ethiopian farmers. According to Dr Berhe, the NERICA varieties produce yields of 3–6 t per hectare in farmers’ fields.

Ethiopia is part of the new initiative on stress-tolerant rice varieties led by IRRI and Africa Rice Center with financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“ Africa Rice Center is deeply honored to receive this recognition from Ethiopia for the strong partnership that has been forged between us,” stated Director General Dr Papa Seck.

This partnership ranges from governance to research. The current Board Chair of Africa Rice Center is Mr Getachew Engida from UK/Ethiopia. Dr Tsekede Abate, former Director General of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research Organization has served as a Africa Rice Center Board member.
Senior Ethiopian scientists have also been working with Africa Rice Center, including Dr Kassa Semagn, former Post-doctoral Fellow (PDF) and Dr Negussie Shoatatek Zenna, current PDF.