The 2009 Steering Committee/Experts meeting of the African Rice Initiative (ARI) of the Africa Rice Center was held in Cotonou, Benin, 4-6 May.
More than 35 participants attended, including four representatives from the African Development Bank (AfDB) as well as representatives from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the AfDB-funded NERICA® project countries, the three Common Fund for Commodities (CFC)-funded rice project countries, four observer countries (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon and Senegal), and Sasakawa Global 2000 (SG 2000).
The Director General of the national program from Gabon, Dr Obame Ondo, was specially invited to attend as observer. Gabon is keen to join the Africa Rice Center.
The Steering Committee reviewed the progress made in AfDB-funded project countries (Benin, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria and Sierra Leone) and in the CFC-funded project countries (Cameroon, Chad and Central African Republic).
The areas covered included the availability of good quality seeds of upland NERICA® varieties, introduction of lowland NERICA® rice and other improved varieties, seed system development, capacity building, development of integrated rice management options, varietal maintenance, participatory varietal selection (PVS), post-harvest processing and commercialization.
The Steering Committee meeting this year was particularly noteworthy because of the participation of Mr Bakary Togola from Mali, President of the farmers’ association APCAM, who has achieved remarkable success in rice farming.