AfricaRice Council of Ministers sends strong signal of commitment to drive Africa’s rice agenda
The 31st Ordinary Session of the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) Council of Ministers held recently under the chairmanship of His Excellency Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Infrastructure of Senegal, reaffirmed strongly its commitment to support AfricaRice to help accelerate Africa’s rice self-sufficiency.
Calling it a “historic” session, the chair stated, “The AfricaRice Council of Ministers has pledged to pay membership arrears within a clear time frame so that AfricaRice, which serves as the common tool of its member countries for rice research and development at the continental level, can more effectively address their priorities relating to rice sector development.”
The chair underlined that this resolution demonstrates the strong ownership of AfricaRice by its member countries. “We have taken a bold step in carrying out our responsibility towards AfricaRice and we will inform our highest authorities in each of the member countries of the imminent risk of nonpayment of membership contributions.”
The 31st Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers was attended by 24 out of 26 member countries’ ministers or their officially designated representatives. AfricaRice is a pan-African intergovernmental association of member countries with the Council of Ministers, consisting of ministers of agriculture or ministers of scientific research of all AfricaRice member countries, as its highest governing body. AfricaRice is also one of the 15 CGIAR Research Centers.
The Council appreciated that AfricaRice is a CGIAR Research Center that is institutionally and culturally well-embedded in the African continent. It also recognized that AfricaRice is an important partner with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) among others within the CGIAR Research Program on Rice Agri-Food Systems (RICE).
Highlighting the vital importance of mobilizing global knowledge for Africa through this partnership, the Council called upon the international scientific community, especially the CGIAR System Organization, to provide stronger support to rice research for Africa and to AfricaRice in particular, as rice has become a strategic commodity across the continent. During the last 10 years, rice consumption in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has increased by 81%, while production has increased by only 55%.
The Council urged AfricaRice to strengthen collaboration with major rice initiatives in Africa, such as the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), the Regional Rice Offensive of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) and the National Center of Specialization on rice (CNS-Riz) under the West Africa Agriculture Transformation Program (WAATP).
The Council endorsed the African Development Bank-funded AfricaRice-led initiative ‘Continental Investment Plan for accelerating Rice Self-Sufficiency in Africa’ (CIPRiSSA), which provides a roadmap for accelerated action to reach self-sufficiency in rice by 2025 for 10 pilot countries in Africa. It tasked AfricaRice to extend the CIPRiSSA study to other member countries, so that they can also benefit from evidence-based information on the rice value chain and the investment options required to achieve rice self-sufficiency.
These were among the 15 key resolutions passed by the 31st Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers after reviewing the biennial report of the AfricaRice Director General and the recommendations of the National Experts Committee. The Director General’s report highlighted important achievements of the Center mainly concerning advocacy, research and development, strategic alliances, finance, human resources, governance, and CGIAR-related activities.
Despite severe financial challenges, AfricaRice has been able to deliver and disseminate to its member states significant results in the areas of rice varietal creation (52 stress-tolerant rice varieties released over the past two years in SSA countries), good agronomic practices and decision-support tools, value addition options, policy findings, and capacity development.
“These results contributed to increasing the performance of the rice value chain, boosting development of the rice sector especially in our member countries,” stated AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley. He also presented the Rice Value Chain Resource Center (RVC-RC) model, which would help commercialize the rice sector through mechanisms that reduce risks along the value chain.
The Council expressed its satisfaction that 74% of 151 peer-reviewed journal articles by AfricaRice were published with national partners. It commended AfricaRice efforts in capacity development of national researchers and rice value chain actors, noting that over 190 postgraduates (including 84 female postgraduates) and 17,581 participants in group training programs had benefitted from these efforts over the past two years.
During the closing session, the membership of the Republic of Mozambique in AfricaRice was ratified. With the joining of Mozambique, the number of AfricaRice member countries has gone up to 27. The request by the Republic of Kenya for adhesion to AfricaRice was accepted by the Council and will be ratified in due course. The Council unanimously approved Egypt’s assumption of the Council Chairmanship for the next two years.
The Council congratulated and encouraged the AfricaRice Director General, Management and staff for the achievements made under challenging financial conditions. A special vote of thanks was accorded to the President, Government and people of Senegal for their warm hospitality and for the successful hosting of the 31st Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers.
Resolutions of the 31st Ordinary Session of the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) Council of Ministers
1. Member states should pay at least half of their arrears in contributions by the end of the first quarter of the year 2019. Non-payment at the indicated date will lead to the suspension of activities of AfricaRice in the countries concerned.
2. Member states were given a moratorium period not exceeding 2019 for payment of the balance of their arrears.
3. AfricaRice should establish fact sheets on the impact of its interventions in each member country, which is to be used as an advocacy instrument to government authorities.
4. The Chair of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers should address a letter to the System Council and the System Management Board conveying the concerns of member states of AfricaRice about the drastic reduction in financial resources allocated to Centers, and in particular destined for rice research, whereas rice constitutes a strategic crop for Africa.
5. AfricaRice should solicit institutional and financial support from the African Union and the Regional and Sub-Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa, through advocacy actions.
6. AfricaRice should extend the Continental plan for Accelerating Rice Self-Sufficiency in Africa (CIPRISSA) study to other member countries in order to provide strategic evidence-based information that will guide decisions for investments in priority areas of the rice value chain and accelerate the attainment of rice self-sufficiency by 2025 in all member countries of AfricaRice.
7. AfricaRice should further strengthen its internal capacity to mobilize financial resources.
8. AfricaRice should review its organizational texts to better define conditions and modalities for member countries to respect their obligations of payment of financial contributions.
9. AfricaRice should continue to focus on research for development, which is its core mandate.
10. AfricaRice should carry out a study to rationalize its network of stations and to adapt it to the present context.
11. AfricaRice should pursue its work on hybrid rice varieties and high-yielding inbred varieties for different agro-ecosystems in Africa.
12. AfricaRice should develop collaboration with major initiatives on rice in Africa (Coalition for Africa Rice Development (CARD); the Regional Rice Offensive of the Economic community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI), the National Center of Specialization on rice (NCS-Rice) under the West African Agricultural Transformation Program facilitated by the World Bank and CORAF, etc.
13. Member states should facilitate the provision of resources to establish seed reserves at the regional and national levels.
14. The Council ratified the adhesion of Mozambique and accepted to examine and ratify in due course the request of Kenya for adhesion to AfricaRice.
15. The Council accepted the presidency of Egypt for the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of AfricaRice.