Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 AfricaRice Dr Robert Carsky Award

Photo (from left to right) :
AfricaRice Board Chair Dr Peter Matlon, Ms. Maimouna Ouattara,
Mrs Rebecca Khelseau-Carsky, Dr Ibnou Dieng, and
AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley.

At the 37th Meeting of AfricaRice Board of Trustees, the 2015 AfricaRice Dr Robert Carsky Award was presented on 27 March to AfricaRice Biometrician Ibnou Dieng for his outstanding dedicated service, integrity, technical skills and very positive attitude that have contributed to the success of the Center and to Maimouna Ouattara, Human Resources Coordinator, for demonstrating exceptional commitment to her work in support of the Center’s activities.

To honor the contribution and dedication of the late Dr Robert Carsky, who served as agronomist at the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) until his tragic death in 2004 in Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire, a prestigious annual award in his memory has been set up by the Center.

Ibnou Dieng has been the brain behind the development of the AfricaRice Open Access and Data Management policy and implementation guidelines. The policy was approved by the Board in 2014 and is aligned with the CGIAR Principles on the Management of Intellectual Assets and Open Access Policy. He has also developed tools to facilitate statistical and GxE analysis for scientists involved in the Africa-wide Rice Breeding Task Force, providing support to decisions related to advancement of rice breeding lines.

Maimouna Ouattara has successfully applied knowledge gained from the One Corporate System (OCS) training to ensure that workflows in the Human Resource field at AfricaRice were simplified and then captured properly in OCS in a very efficient manner.

The Carsky Awards for 2015 were presented at the end of the meeting of the AfricaRice Board of Trustees on 27 March by Mrs Rebecca Khelseau-Carsky. 

The AfricaRice Board of Trustees  and members of the AfricaRice family warmly congratulated Ibnou and Maimouna. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

AfricaRice agronomist Kazuki Saito wins France's prestigious Louis Malassis Young Promising Scientist Prize

Agropolis Foundation's Louis Malassis
Young Promising Scientist Awardee for 2015, 
AfricaRice agronomist Kazuki Saito (3rd from left) with 
P. Kosuth, Director, Agropolis Foundation (1st from left), 
Henri Carsalade, Chair of the Board, Agropolis Foundation (2nd from left) and 
Wayne Powell, Chief Science Officer, CGIAR Consortium (4th from left). 
Photo courtesy of S. Zwart, AfricaRice.
Dr Kazuki Saito, AfricaRice agronomist from Japan, was awarded the Agropolis Foundation's  Louis Malassis Young Promising Scientist Prize  in a ceremony held on 16 March 2015 in Montpellier, France, during  the Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture 2015.

Named after Louis Malassis, a renowned French agronomist and agricultural economist who was an ardent supporter of farmers’ cause, the Prize recognizes exemplary and promising contributions of scientists in the field of agriculture and food. It consists of two categories – Distinguished Scientist and Young Promising Scientist.

Accepting the Louis Malassis Prize from Mr Henri Carsalade, Chair of the Board, Agropolis Foundation, Saito said, “I want to thank Agropolis Foundation for this incredible honor. This honor must be shared with all those who have worked with me and supported me. I recognize that our work within the Africa rice agronomy network with national partners has just begun. We have a huge challenge in front of us. I will continue to work hard to make a positive difference in rice production in Africa and in farmers’ livelihoods.”

Saito is the driving force behind the Africa-wide Rice Agronomy Task Force, convened by AfricaRice, which is conducting activities in 21 countries across Africa. Yield-gap survey protocols for the Agronomy Task Force, developed under Saito’s leadership, are currently being used in these countries by national research institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. The results from the surveys are enabling AfricaRice and its partners to identify the opportunities available to introduce technologies to close yield gaps.

Saito is involved in climate risk assessment and R&D priority setting for rice in Africa. He has developed a decision support application (app) for providing African farmers with field-specific management guidelines called ‘RiceAdvice.’ He is also leading a team that has developed the first version of a yield gap map for rice in nine African countries in the ‘Global Yield Gap Atlas’ website.

AfricaRice Deputy Director General Dr Marco Wopereis said “Saito has always shown determination, stamina and leadership in conducting field research in close collaboration with researchers and farmers, leading to tangible results often under difficult circumstances.”

Saito has been actively involved in training  researchers, extension workers and students in themes relating to agronomy, including making use of smart phones to facilitate data entry and recognition of symptoms of pests, diseases and nutrient disorders in the field. 

“Saito is a worthy recipient of the prestigious Louis Malassis Young Promising Scientist Prize and the AfricaRice family is very proud of his achievements,” AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley said.

Related links : 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

AfricaRice’s new DG takes office, outlines strategic priorities

Interim Director General Dr Adama Traoré 
handed over office to the 
new Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley
Describing the 2011-2020 strategic plan of the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) to boost the rice sector in Africa as “evidenced-based and therefore very solid and powerful,” the new Director General of AfricaRice Dr Harold Roy-Macauley urged AfricaRice staff “to be adventurous and ingenious in the way we roll out our rice science.”

He stated that although AfricaRice’s mandate covers the rice sector in Africa, it is global in its approach, because of the growing importance and opportunities of the African rice sector in the global rice market. “Rice is global and it is big business,” said Dr Roy-Macauley. “It is the white gold of the future. We at AfricaRice should consider ourselves fortunate to be in big business already.”

Dr Roy-Macauley made these remarks in his first speech to the AfricaRice staff during the handover ceremony on 12 March 2015 at AfricaRice temporary headquarters in Cotonou, Benin, in which the Interim Director General Dr Adama Traoré handed over office to him.

Dr Roy-Macauley, a Sierra Leonean national, was appointed as the new Director General of AfricaRice at an Extraordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of AfricaRice held on 6 February 2015, in Kampala, Uganda.

After thanking Dr Traoré for ably steering the Center during the interim period, Dr Roy-Macauley outlined his first priorities that include the following:

  • Rendering partnerships more efficient around rice science and sector development
  • Strengthening capacity for rice science and sector development
  • Improving access of small-holders rice producers to markets
  • Reintegrating rice science in the policy agenda of countries
  • Increasing investments in rice science and sector development   

To realize his vision for AfricaRice, he highlighted the need for AfricaRice Management and staff to focus on the implementation of four main pillars: 

  1. “Consolidation, which implies consolidating existing scientific and development activities to respond directly to the weaknesses observed in the rice value chain with special focus on integrating functional Innovation platforms (IPs) in rice value chain in the rice hubs and striking a better balance between varietal development and dissemination and agronomy.
  2. Efficiency/Efficacy, which implies improving the following key systems – monitoring, evaluation and learning; data and information collection and analysis; knowledge management; information and communication; cooperate services and quality delivery; and governance policies, leading to increased credibility of AfricaRice, the interest of development partners including the private sector and their investments and the sustainable funding of AfricaRice’s activities.
  3. Punctuality, which implies anticipating consequences (proactivity and rapidity), having great consideration of our clients, inspiring confidence in staff, and being polite, which will lead to improved client relationship and the reputation of AfricaRice Management.
  4. Excellence, which implies being very progressive, having a sense of responsibility and a spirit of openness, and recognizing diversity, merits and talents, which will lead to improved work environment.”

Click here to listen to AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley’s maiden address.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Budding women rice researchers in Africa “make it happen”

This year’s International Women’s Day theme of “Make it happen” resonates well with the initiative of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to promote the work of young women rice researchers like Gaudiose Mujawamariya and Esther Leah Achandi through the project ‘Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC).’

Gaudiose Mujawamariya and Esther Leah Achandi received the Young Rice Scientist Award at the International Rice Congress held in Thailand, Bangkok in November 2014, for their research on “Demystification of consumer preferences for rice in urban areas of Dar es Salaam” and “Market participation by small holder rice farmers in Tanzania: A double hurdle analysis”.

“These researchers used the ‘experimental auctions approach’ to investigate how consumers value rice quality characteristics and assess the determinants of the ‘willingness-to-pay’ for alternative quality aspects of rice,” said AfricaRice scientist Dr Sidi Sanyang, who is coordinating the rice component of the SARD-SC project. Gaudiose and Esther were among 29 scientists from 19 countries who received the Young Rice Scientist Award. 

Gaudiose Mujawamariya 
Gaudiose is Rwandese. She obtained her PhD degree from Wageningen University in 2012. Since October 2013, she has been working as a Value Chain Economist at AfricaRice Regional Station in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She is also a Fellow of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD).

“I want to appreciate this award as really a group work effort done with my AfricaRice colleagues Rose Fiamohe, Maimouna N’dour and Esther Leah Achandi,” remarked Gaudiose. “In a way I can say it is an ambition of women. I want whatever we are doing today translated to the beneficiaries, the farmers.”

The work of Gaudiose and Esther has shown that ‘good’ rice production in terms of quantity and quality and the existence of market and road infrastructure enhance the participation of farmers in markets.

“My study examined issues that affect the market participation of farmers in Tanzania,” said Esther. “These include the ability for them to access roads, and the presence of administrative services in the villages, as well as issues of transport infrastructure, road networks, etc.”

Esther Leah Achandi
Esther is Ugandan. She is currently employed as Research Assistant at AfricaRice in Tanzania, mainly working on gender and understanding the rice value chain. She is also a PhD Economics student at the University of Dar es Salaam with an interest in environmental economics and hopes to write her thesis on the impact of climate change on rice farmers in East Africa.

Both Gaudiose and Esther expressed their deep gratitude for the generous support by the SARD-SC project that has enabled them to contribute to rice research for development.

The SARD-SC project is implemented by three Africa-based Centers that are members of the CGIAR Consortium: AfricaRice, which coordinates the rice value chain; the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), which coordinates the wheat value chain; and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), which coordinates the cassava and maize value chains. IITA is also the executing agency for the project.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) supports the three Centers for the project’s activities relating to the strengthening of the technical and commercial capacities of farmers’ organizations across the four value chains.

Listen to Gaudiose Mujawamariya talking on this occasion.

Listen to Esther Leah Achandi talking on this occasion.