Saturday, June 26, 2010

Project launched to develop the next generation of new rice varieties for sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia

IRRI and AfricaRice jointly launched the Japan-funded project on “Developing the next generation of new rice varieties for Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.” The eastern and southern African launch of this project took place on 24 Apr 2010, in Kirundo Province of Burundi.

The launch was attended by scientists from IRRI, AfricaRice and 38 national research and extension partners from nine east and southern Africa countries (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda.)

The overall aim of the project is to accelerate the development and deployment of the next generation of elite rice varieties for major production systems in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, where poverty is prevalent and the risk of food shortage is high.

The project has the following three objectives:
  • Accelerate the development of high-impact varieties in SSA and Southeast Asia
  • Accelerate rice variety testing, approval, and dissemination in SSA and Southeast Asia
  • Contribute to building a new generation of rice breeders
To ensure delivery of products well-accepted by farmers and consumers, this project aims to establish a network of NARS breeders in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia that would constitute an Africawide Breeding Task Forces to develop the next generation of rice varieties in both regions of the world.

This project will allow IRRI and AfricaRice to rebuild rice breeding capacity at the national level in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia and pursue a systematic collaborative approach to rice breeding that will greatly shorten the time needed to develop new varieties. Delivery of varieties will also be accelerated through streamlining and harmonizing of varietal release procedures across the regions.

The regional launch of this project in West Africa took place in Segou, Mali, 23-26 Jun 2010.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Project to mitigate climate change impact on rice disease resistance in East Africa launched

East Africa and mainly the Great Lakes region are among the most vulnerable regions to climate change in Africa. Studies indicate that climatic change will induce increasing temperature and declining rainfall in East Africa with frequent periods of drought which may intensify crop disease occurrence and severity. Also by impacting on both pests and host plants, climate change may enable some pests and diseases to expand beyond their current locations.

A project on “Mitigating climate change impact on rice disease resistance in East Africa,” was launched in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, 1-2 Jun 2010 to help address the urgent demand for climate-proof disease-resistant rice varieties and help adapt crop management practices to climate change, thus greatly reducing farmer risk.
Research results are expected to lead to the development of rice varieties resistant to strains of blast and bacterial leaf blight in the region and of rice management practices adapted to climate change. Breeders will directly benefit because of greatly improved knowledge of pathogen strains and related rice resistance genes and alleles.

Results will be used to determine the likely impact of climate change on rice disease occurrence and severity, develop recommendations for farmers to adapt crop management practices reducing the risk of disease related yield loss, and guide breeders in development of climate proof, disease resistant rice varieties for different rice production situations. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

AfricaRice rated as Outstanding by World Bank

As part of its annual evaluation of 15 international Centers belonging to CGIAR) based on performance-linked measurements, the World Bank announced in Jun 2010 that it has rated AfricaRice as 'Outstanding,' in the 2009 Performance Measurement exercise. This is the highest of three performance categories.

The assessment was based on a number of criteria that included results, impacts, quality and relevance of the Center’s research and publications, financial and institutional health, and stakeholder perceptions.
The Performance Measurement System (PMS) is a regular annual feature in the CGIAR monitoring and evaluation system, which provides Centers with a barometer to better gauge their own performance and demonstrate accountability and transparency to their stakeholders. The World Bank uses the performance measurement data as a guideline for allocating part of its funding to the Centers.

Earlier this year, the Director General, Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, and the staff of AfricaRice were congratulated by the Board of Trustees for placing the Center on a path of continuous growth as a result of the following achievements:
  • Doubling of the Center’s budget in 2010 compared to 2007, with a significant rise in fund reserves;
  • Increase in recovery of contributions from African member States, which now collectively rank as the number one core donor of the Center;
  • High rate of accession to membership of the Center by African countries in the period 2006-2010 than ever before;
  • Large number of exciting research projects addressing major challenges of rice in Africa, including climate change;
  • Close partnership with national programs, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and advanced research institutions;
  • International recognition such as the Agricultural Merit Order of France and the Merit Order of Senegal presented to the Director General, the CGIAR’s Outstanding Communication and Young Scientist Awards to AfricaRice researchers.
Warmly congratulating the AfricaRice staff for their dedication and performance, Director General Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck said, “This is a great achievement, but we consider this as just the beginning of our journey towards our goal. So we cannot rest on our laurels.”

Dr Seck also expressed his deep appreciation to all the donors and R&D partners of AfricaRice, particularly the national programs, which work hand in hand with the Center to boost rice production and rural development in Africa.