Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rice Field Days in Liberia attract many women farmers

More than 200 farmers, 70% of whom were women farmers, attended Rice Field Days organized by AfricaRice in collaboration with the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI), in Bong and Margibi counties in Liberia, on 7 and 8 September 2016 respectively.

Representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as from the Liberian Ministry of Agriculture and the Smallholder Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Commercialization (SAPEC) project coordination unit also attended, in addition to all focal points from the project counties and farmers’ delegates.

The main objective of the Field Days was to demonstrate to farmers and partners improved climate-resilient upland and lowland rice varieties. These included ARICA, NERICA and Orylux varieties that have been established in demonstration plots in the project counties.

Farmers were given the opportunity to indicate their preference from the demonstrated varieties. Among the lowland varieties NERICA L-19, ARICA 2 and Orylux 6 were preferred by the majority of farmers, and among the upland varieties, NERICA 8, ARICA 4 and ARICA 5 were preferred. 

The Field Days were conducted as part of the SAPEC project, which is funded by the African Development Bank and implemented by AfricaRice. Similar Field Days have been scheduled to take place in six other counties.  

Friday, September 16, 2016

AfricaRice hosts FAO meeting on sustainable rice systems development in SSA

The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) hosted a 1-day meeting on 15 September 2016 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, which was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to discuss with partners its project to promote sustainable rice production systems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).  

The project will be led by FAO with support from Venezuela under the South-South Cooperation framework to assist 10 SSA countries to strengthen their food security through more efficient rice production.

The meeting discussed the priority needs of the countries, based on individual country needs assessment, carried out by FAO and the countries, which revealed that the most common issues for the countries are the access to quality seed at every level (breeder's seeds, foundation seeds and certified seeds); postharvest and processing technologies; and capacity strengthening along the rice value chain. 

The partners invited to the meeting include representatives from the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), FAO, AfricaRice, among others. 

Participants who attended the meeting are as follows:
  • World Bank: Mr Hiroshi Hiraoka, Senior Agriculture Economist, AFTA2; and Jeanette M. Sutherland, Sr. Private Sector Development Consultant, Agribusiness
  • FAO: Suffyan Koroma, Senior Trade Economist, FAO Regional Office for Africa, Ghana; Akanvou Léopold Edgar, FAO Representative in Côte d’Ivoire; Peter Anaadumba, Programme Officer (Economist), FAO South-South Cooperation and Resource Mobilization Division, Rome
  • AfricaRice: Etienne Duveiller,  Deputy Director General-Director of Research for Development;  Samuel Bruce-Oliver, Director of Strategic Partnerships; Paul Kiepe, Interim Advisor; Sidi Sanyang, Rice Sector Development Program Leader; Sali Atanga Ndindeng, Grain Quality and Postharvest Technology Scientist; Ampar Vittalaraya Kini, Seed Systems Development Coordinator; Saidu Bah, Seed Production Specialist.        
The meeting falls within the framework of the memorandum of understanding signed between FAO and AfricaRice for scientific and technical cooperation in consolidating sustainable rice systems development in Africa.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

AfricaRice and SLARI conduct workshop on proposal writing for national researchers in Sierra Leone

Thirty-seven national researchers, including eight women researchers, from Sierra Leone participated in a training workshop on ‘Preparing and Writing Fundable Research Grant Proposals’ at Njala University, 15 – 25 August 2016, organized in the framework of the World Bank's West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP-1C).

The rice component of WAAPP-1C in Sierra Leone is being implemented jointly by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) and Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI).

The workshop participants were staff members of the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), Rokupr Agricultural Research Centre (RARC), the SLARI Statistics Unit, Teko Livestock Research Centre and the Kenema Forestry Tree Crop and Research Centre. The workshop was conducted by Professor Anthony Youdeowei and Rodger Obubo, International Consultant Trainers.

The workshop was fully participatory. It complemented theory with extensive discussions and hands-on practical exercises in preparing and writing actual research proposals to be submitted for competitive funding. Eight draft proposals were developed, four by NARC and two by RARC.

During the discussions, some critically important issues emerged which require the immediate attention of the organizations involved in implementing the WAAPP-1C in Sierra Leone.

Emerging Issues

  1. Donor Information - It was evident from discussions with the workshop participants that there was serious lack of awareness of calls for research proposals for funding African agricultural research. The workshop recommends that SLARI considers establishing a ‘Donor Intelligence Unit’ to collect and distribute regularly information on international donor organizations that fund agricultural research and their calls for research proposals.
  2. Research Proposals Review – There is lack of a systematic process for review of research proposals written by researchers. The workshop recommends an ‘Institutional Proposal Review Committee’ in research centers in Sierra Leone to assist researchers in writing proposals which would be endorsed by concerned centers before submission to donors for funding. 
  3. Research Seminars – To further improve conceptualizing research ideas and writing research proposals, the introduction of regular institutional seminars would be valuable in reviewing the implementation of on-going research programs and research proposals. Research seminars could be organized within individual research centers or between two or more research centers. Such research seminars would promote and facilitate collaborative research, which is attractive to donors, as well as provide opportunities to strengthen researchers’ skills in writing winning research proposals.  

Friday, September 9, 2016

AfricaRice Council of Ministers approves Ethiopia’s membership application

The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) Council of Ministers (CoM) unanimously approved the application of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to join the Center, at the 30th CoM held in Kampala, Uganda, 22-23 August 2016, held under the chairmanship of Hon. Ssempijja Vincent Bamulangaki (MP), Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of the Republic of Uganda. This brings the number of AfricaRice member States to 26.

“We look forward to the scientific support and technical expertise that AfricaRice offers to its member countries, which will help Ethiopia achieve its rice sector development targets,” stated Hon. Wondirad Mandefro, State Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources of Ethiopia.

AfricaRice is a CGIAR Research Center as well as an intergovernmental association of African member states. Its highest oversight body is the CoM. The Center plays a key role in providing technical support and advising its member states on critical rice production and marketing issues.

Fourteen member states were present at the 30th CoM. Ethiopia and South Africa attended as observers. In addition, partner organizations, notably the African Union Commission (AUC), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), attended as special guests.

In his welcome speech, the 30th CoM Chair said that “AfricaRice innovations have become an engine for economic growth in Africa.” He underlined the tremendous support received by Uganda from AfricaRice in rice research and development, capacity development and agricultural machinery, which far outweighs the country’s membership contribution to AfricaRice.

AfricaRice Board Chair, Prof. Eric Tollens, speaking during the official opening ceremony, reiterated that for every dollar the member states contribute to AfricaRice, they get a return value of 10-20 dollars in technical and project support. He made a special appeal to the member states to pay their membership fees to improve the Center’s financial position in view of funding constraints currently affecting all CGIAR Research Centers.

“Rice is one of the regional value chains with a huge potential to contribute to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)-Malabo aspirations, if necessary investments are correctly made,” stated H.E. Mrs. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, at the CoM inauguration ceremony. “It is, therefore our moral duty to stand squarely around AfricaRice to mobilize resources and capacitate it.”

The CoM in its proceedings examined the detailed report presented by the AfricaRice Director General, Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, covering a new strategic orientation, advocacy efforts, research-for-development initiatives, support to member countries, rice hubs and innovation platforms, capacity development efforts, strategic partnerships and the CGIAR System Organization.

The Director General’s presentation also focused on the Center’s financial situation, resource mobilization efforts, audit and risk management and the status of the Center’s return process to Côte d’Ivoire in line with the decisions of the AfricaRice CoM and Board of Trustees.

“High-level advocacy, good quality research and stronger partnership mechanisms have led to greater visibility of the Center’s relevance and enhanced dissemination of rice innovations,” Dr Roy-Macauley concluded. “However, the unstable financial situation and weak enabling policies for rice sector development are our main challenges.” 
The Director General clarified that the priorities over the next couple of years will be to establish sustainable innovative financing mechanism to maintain quality activities of the Center; ensure the full operationalization of its 700-ha research station in Côte d’Ivoire and the Training Center in Senegal; strengthen research efforts to ensure increased local production of quality rice; and identify policy options to boost the rice sector. 

The CoM congratulated the Director General for the comprehensive update and pledged to do everything possible to clear all arrears and regularly pay the annual dues, in particular the 2016 dues, before the end of the year.
The 30th CoM adopted the following 11 resolutions based on recommendations made by the AfricaRice National Experts Committee relating to presentations by the Director General and other senior AfricaRice scientists:
  1. Ensure timely distribution of COM meeting reports to member states
  2. Demonstrate a clear approach to strengthening the rice value chain
  3. Demonstrate the impact of research on the rice sector of member countries
  4. Develop a policy for improving the production of quality rice
  5. Develop a sustainable funding mechanism for the Center
  6. Ensure timely payment of country membership dues
  7. Promote youth employment
  8. Provide on-the-job training to national scientists early in their career
  9. Constitute strategic reserves of breeder and foundation rice seeds
  10. Organize a rice summit for Africa to take the rice science agenda to policy-makers
  11. Promote the African Development Bank-funded initiative ‘Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) through the implementation of a rice component
The 30th COM congratulated the Management and staff members of the Center for all the achievements. It gave a vote of thanks dedicated to the President, Government and people of Uganda for the successful hosting of the 30th COM.

Special thanks were also addressed to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire for its support to the relocation of the AfricaRice headquarters from Benin to Côte d’Ivoire. The Government and the people of Benin as well as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) received thanks for having temporarily hosted the AfricaRice headquarters for more than 11 years.

At the conclusion of the 30th CoM, the member states signed a revised constitution incorporating previous Council resolutions related to the Center’s name change, which would facilitate AfricaRice’s international business transactions. In a sub-regional rotation of the chairmanship of the CoM, the Republic of Senegal was designated as the incoming Chair.

Related links :
  1. Photos : Participants of the 30th Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice Council of     Ministers, 22-23 August 2016, Kampala, Uganda, organized under the chairmanship of Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja,  Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of the Republic of Uganda.
  2. Audio podcast : Welcome remarks by Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja,  Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of the Republic of Uganda, Chair of the 30th Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers, 22-23 August 2016, Kampala, Uganda.
  3. Audio podcast : Welcome speech by AfricaRice Board Chair Prof. Eric Tollens at the 30th Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers, 22-23 August 2016, Kampala, Uganda.
  4. Audio podcast : Goodwill message delivered by the African Union Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development H. E. Mrs. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace at the 30th Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers, 22-23 August 2016, Kampala, Uganda.

Le Conseil des ministres d’AfricaRice approuve la demande d’adhésion de l’Éthiopie

Le Conseil des ministres (CM) du Centre du riz pour l’Afrique (AfricaRice) a approuvé à l’unanimité la demande d’adhésion de la République démocratique fédérale d’Éthiopie au Centre lors de la 30e réunion du CM tenue les 22 et 23 août 2016 à Kampala, en Ouganda sous la présidence de l’Honorable Ssempijja Vincent Bamulangaki, Ministre de l’Agriculture, de l’Industrie animale et de la Pêche de la République d’Ouganda. Cela porte à 26 le nombre d’États membres d’AfricaRice.

« Nous nous réjouissons de l’appui scientifique et de l’expertise technique qu’AfricaRice apporte à ses États membres, qui vont aider l’Éthiopie à atteindre ses objectifs de développement du secteur rizicole, » a déclaré l’Honorable Wondirad Mandefro, Ministre d’État, Ministère de l’Agriculture et des Ressources naturelles d’Éthiopie.

AfricaRice est un Centre de recherche du CGIAR et une association intergouvernementale d’États membres africains, dont l’organe suprême de supervision est le CM. Le Centre joue un rôle clé en fournissant l’appui technique à ses États membres et en leur donnant des conseils sur les questions stratégiques relatives à la production et à la commercialisation du riz.

Quatorze États membres étaient présents lors du 30e CM. L’Éthiopie et l’Afrique du Sud ont pris part à la réunion en qualité d’observateurs. De plus, les organisations partenaires, notamment la Commission de l’Union africaine (CUA), le Forum pour la recherche agricole en Afrique (FARA), le Conseil ouest et centre africain pour la recherche et le développement agricole (CORAF/WECARD), et l’Agence de planification et de coordination du NEPAD y ont pris part en tant qu’invités spéciaux.

Dans son discours de bienvenue, le président du 30e CM a déclaré que : « les innovations d’AfricaRice sont devenues un moteur de la croissance économique en Afrique ». Il a souligné l’appui considérable qu’AfricaRice a apporté à l’Ouganda en termes de recherche et de développement rizicoles, de renforcement des capacités et d’équipements agricoles, qui dépasse de loin la contribution du pays à AfricaRice.

Le président du CA d’AfricaRice, Prof. Eric Tollens, dans son allocution lors de la cérémonie d’ouverture a réitéré que pour chaque dollar que les États membres cotisent à AfricaRice, ils reçoivent un retour de 10-20 dollars en appui technique et aux projets. Il a tout spécialement lancé un appel aux États membres afin que ces derniers paient leurs cotisations en vue d’améliorer la position financière du Centre au vu des contraintes financières affectant tous les Centres de recherche du CGIAR.

« La chaîne de valeur régionale du riz, entre autres, possède un potentiel  considérable de contribution au Programme détaillé de développement de l’Agriculture en Afrique (PPDAA)-Déclaration de Malabo, si les investissements nécessaires sont faits de façon appropriée, » a déclaré S. E. Mme Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissaire de la CUA pour l’Économie rurale et l’Agriculture lors de la cérémonie d’inauguration du CM. « Nous avons donc le devoir moral d’apporter un soutien indéfectible à AfricaRice en vue de mobiliser des ressources et de l’aider à mener à bien sa mission. »

Le CM a examiné le rapport détaillé présenté par le Directeur général d’AfricaRice, Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, portant sur une nouvelle perspective stratégique, les efforts de plaidoyers, les initiatives de recherche pour le développement, l’appui aux pays membres, les pôles rizicoles et les plateformes d’innovations, les efforts de renforcement des capacités, les partenariats stratégiques et l’Organisation du Système du CGIAR.

La présentation du Directeur général a également mis l’accent sur la situation financière du Centre, les efforts de mobilisation de ressources, la gestion de l’audit et des risques et l’état du processus de retour du Centre en Côte d’Ivoire conformément aux décisions du CM et du CA d’AfricaRice.

« Le plaidoyer de haut-niveau, la recherche de qualité et les mécanismes de partenariat plus forts ont donné lieu à une plus grande visibilité de la pertinence du Centre et à une meilleure dissémination des innovations rizicoles, » a conclu Dr Harold Roy-Macauley. « Cependant, la situation financière instable et les politiques faibles en faveur du développement du secteur rizicole restent nos principaux défis. »

Le Directeur général a clarifié que les priorités des prochaines années seront de mettre en place des mécanismes de financement novateurs durables en vue de maintenir les activités de qualité du Centre ; d’assurer l’opérationnalisation complète de sa station de recherche de700 ha en Côte d’Ivoire et du Centre de formation au Sénégal ; de renforcer les efforts de recherche en vue d’assurer une augmentation de la production locale de riz de qualité et ; d’identifier les options politiques visant à booster le secteur rizicole.

Le CM a félicité le Directeur général pour le point détaillé et s’est engagé à ne ménager aucun effort pour éponger tous les arriérées et payer régulièrement les cotisations annuelles en particulier celles de 2016 avant la fin de l’année.

Le 30e CM a adopté les 11 résolutions suivantes, sur la base des recommandations faites par le Comité des experts nationaux d’AfricaRice, liées aux présentations du Directeur général et des chercheurs principaux d’AfricaRice.
  1. Assurer la distribution à temps opportun des rapports de la réunion du CM aux États membres.
  2. Démontrer une approche claire de renforcer la chaîne de valeur du riz
  3. Démontrer l’impact des activités de recherche sur le secteur rizicole des pays membres
  4. Élaborer une politique en vue de l’amélioration de la production de riz de qualité
  5. Développer un mécanisme de financement durable pour AfricaRice
  6. Assurer le paiement à temps opportun des cotisations des États membres
  7. Promouvoir l’emploi des jeunes.
  8. Fournir une formation pratique aux chercheurs nationaux en début de carrière
  9. Constituer des réserves stratégiques de semences de pré-base et de base
  10. Organiser un sommet sur le riz en Afrique en vue de rapprocher le programme de science rizicole et les décideurs politiques
  11. Promouvoir l’initiative ‘Les technologies pour la transformation agricole de l’Afrique (TAAT))’ financée par la Banque africaine de développement à travers la mise en œuvre d’un volet riz.
Le 30e CM a félicité la Direction et le personnel du Centre pour toutes les réalisations. Il a adressé une motion de remerciement au Président, au gouvernement et au peuple ougandais pour avoir abrité avec réussite le 30e CM.
Le gouvernement de Côte d’Ivoire a été tout particulièrement remercié pour son appui à la relocalisation du siège d’AfricaRice du Bénin en Côte d’Ivoire. Le gouvernement, le peuple du Bénin ainsi que l’Institut international d’agriculture tropicale (IITA) se sont vus adresser des remerciements pour avoir temporairement abrité le siège d’AfricaRice pendant plus de 11 ans.

À la fin du 30e CM, les États membres ont signé l’Acte constitutif révisé incorporant les résolutions précédentes du Conseil relatives au changement du nom du Centre, ce qui faciliterait les transactions d’AfricaRice au niveau international. Lors de la rotation sous-régionale de la présidence du CM, la République du Sénégal a été désignée comme président entrant.

Liens utiles :
  1. Photos : Participants of the 30th Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice Council of     Ministers, 22-23 August 2016, Kampala, Uganda, organized under the chairmanship of Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja,  Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of the Republic of Uganda.
  2. Audio podcast : Welcome remarks by Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja,  Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries of the Republic of Uganda, Chair of the 30th Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers, 22-23 August 2016, Kampala, Uganda.
  3. Audio podcast : Welcome speech by AfricaRice Board Chair Prof. Eric Tollens at the 30th Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers, 22-23 August 2016, Kampala, Uganda.
  4. Audio podcast : Goodwill message delivered by the African Union Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development H. E. Mrs. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace at the 30th Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers, 22-23 August 2016, Kampala, Uganda.

Monday, September 5, 2016

AfricaRice wins second prize among research partners in “Nane Nane” agricultural fair, Eastern Zone, Tanzania

AfricaRice-Tanzania team was honored to participate in the Nane Nane agricultural fair, held in Morogoro, Eastern Zone, Tanzania, 1-8 August 2016 and was selected as the second best exhibitor among research participants. The first winner was Ilonga Research Center.

The Nane Nane agricultural fair is held annually across Tanzania in recognition of the important contribution that farmers make to the national economy.  In total, 57 companies participated in the 2016 Nane Nane exhibition in the Eastern Zone.

New technologies, ideas, discoveries and alternative solutions concerning the agricultural sector are showcased at the annual Nane Nane exhibitions, which also offer an opportunity to get valuable feedback from farmers and other users.

The AfricaRice booth displayed posters and publications on rice innovation for Africa, rice varieties and prototypes of four types of mechanical weeders. The RiceAdvice app developed by AfricaRice was also extensively demonstrated and videos on weed management were projected.  

Several farmers association visited the booth and learnt about rice production, including variety selection according to rice ecology; mechanical and chemical weed management; list of AfricaRice released varieties; fertilizer application and harvesting. DVDs for weed management and Striga management were provided to each farmer group leader so that he/she could share the knowledge with other farmers in their villages.

The AfricaRice exhibition was set up and managed by Elke Vandamme, Agronomist, with the assistance of Leah D. Mwakasege, Research Assistant; Allen Lupembe, Research Technician; Sigmund Mujuni, Research Technician; and BSc. students of the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) working with AfricaRice. Collaborators included Josey Kamanda, Michael Winklmaier, George Mgendi, Laurencia Kiringo, Kapona Ismail and Salum Salum.

“Farmers were very happy to see the mechanical weeders and asked AfricaRice how they can procure these weeders from the market. They also requested AfricaRice to develop transplanters and harvesters because manual sowing/transplanting and harvesting are difficult,” said Ms Mwakasege. “Everyone was interested in the RiceAdvice tool but most of the farmers here want a Swahili version of RiceAdvice.”

The farmer groups requested AfricaRice to introduce an aromatic and disease-resistant lowland rice variety with good milling quality that can compete with SARO 5 (TXD 306), the most widely-grown lowland variety in Tanzania. They also requested AfricaRice to follow up on the seed system to make sure that all released varieties would be available on the market.

Representatives from the government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector, notably the Agriculture Council of Tanzania (ACT), which is the umbrella organization of the agricultural private sector in the country, also visited the AfricaRice booth and explored possibilities of strengthening collaboration. Visitors also included researchers, students and academicians.