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Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)
 
Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)
   

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  1. What is the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)?

  2. For whom does it work?

  3. What is its mission?

  4. Why an international Center for rice in Africa?

  5. Where does it work?

  6. What is its mode of operation?

  7. What is its research agenda?

  8. What are its research priorities?

  9. How do partners have access to its technologies?

  10. How is it funded?

Rice Crisis

  1. What is actually responsible for the increasing price of rice?

  2. Where can the NERICA come in to alleviate the problem?

  3. As an institute, what is your opinion on bringing down the price of rice?

  4. There was news some months back on genetically modified rice. Does the current increase in price of rice have anything to do with this type of rice found in countries like Nigeria and Ghana?

 

1. What is the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)?

The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) is a leading pan-African research organization with a mission to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security in Africa through research, development and partnership activities. It is a member of the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers. It is also an autonomous intergovernmental research association of African member countries.

The Center was created in 1971 by 11 African countries. Today its membership comprises 25 countries, covering West, Central, East and North African regions, namely
Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Uganda.

Recognizing the strategic importance of rice for Africa and the effective geographic expansion of the Center – which was constituted as the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) in 1971 – its Council of Ministers took a historic decision in September 2009 to officially change its name to “Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)” and to no longer refer to it as WARDA.

The highest governing body of the Center is the Council of Ministers of Agriculture of member states, with statutory meetings being held once every two years. Like other CGIAR-supported centers, AfricaRice has a Board of Trustees composed of nominees from member states and from the CGIAR.

The National Experts Committee composed of Directors General of national agricultural research systems (NARS) from all member states meets ahead of the meeting of the Council of Ministers to review the Center’s Strategic Plan and joint activities and make recommendations to the Council of Ministers for approval by resolution. Member states make annual contributions to the budget of the Center and since 2007 there is a renewed commitment.

AfricaRice plays a key role in advising scientists and policymakers in member states on critical rice production and marketing issues. For example, the 2008 shortage of rice supply in the international market was clearly predicted by AfricaRice and member states were alerted through the Council of Ministers. As a result, a number of countries have established national rice programs to reduce their dependence on imported rice.
 


2. For whom does it work?

For the benefit of African farmers, mostly small-scale producers, as well as the millions of Africans for whom rice means food.

 


3. What is its mission?

The mission of the AfricaRice is to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security in Africa, through research, development and partnership activities aimed at increasing the productivity and profitability of the rice sector in ways that ensure the sustainability of the farming environment.

 



4. Why an international Center for rice in Africa?

Millions of Africans are affected by the food crisis and especially by the increased prices and shortage of rice. Rice has become a staple food and high rice prices have caused riots in major African cities in early 2008.

In 2009, sub-Saharan African countries imported approximately 10 million tons of rice, which is close to one-third of the rice available on the world market. However, relying on the world market to supply rice has become a very risky, expensive and unsustainable strategy. Rice prices have tripled over the last three years and global stocks are rapidly declining. To avoid severe food insecurity, civil unrest, and an economic downturn there is an urgent need to increase rice production in Africa.

Africa Rice Center seeks to be a driving and dynamic force in assuring the pivotal role of rice in alleviating poverty and attaining food security, social equity, healthy livelihoods and environments in Africa. The Center believes that Africa has the potential to produce enough quality rice for its population and even for export to other regions in due course of time.

 


5. Where does it work?

AfricaRice headquarters is temporarily based in Cotonou, Benin. It has four outreach stations, i.e., Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire; Ibadan, Nigeria; Saint-Louis, Senegal; and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. AfricaRice achieves its mission with about 300 staff including support staff.

 

 


6. What is its mode of operation?

In close association with its national partners, AfricaRice operates through a continent-wide taskforce mechanism based on specific broad research themes relating to rice. This mechanism was adopted to strengthen and empower the research and development capacity of national systems and to pool expertise and resources. Besides activities in member states, AfricaRice has collaborative research activities with NARS in many other African countries.

The Center is also collaborating with many advanced research institutes to complement the range of expertise needed to tackle the key research for development questions in sub-Saharan Africa, such as the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), the French Research Institute for Development (IRD), the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), and many Universities from USA, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, UK, Japan, etc.

AfricaRice is an important partner in the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), which seeks to be a single coordinated blueprint for global rice research that will allow researchers to address global rice challenges and to be more effective and efficient in getting impacts.

The main architects of GRiSP are three CGIAR Centers – the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), AfricaRice, and ), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) – CIRAD, IRD, and JIRCAS which will play a strategic role with hundreds of other partners worldwide representing governments, the private sector and civil society. IRRI will lead this initiative and also oversee the activities in Asia; AfricaRice will lead the work in Africa, and CIAT in the Latin America & Caribbean region.

AfricaRice’s role as a champion in partnership building has won recognition both in Africa and on the international scene. The Center and its scientists have been awarded several prizes, including awards from the Heads of State of Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal; the CGIAR King Baudouin (Belgium) Prize; the United Nations Prize for South-South Cooperation; the World Food Prize; the Japan International Koshihikari Rice Prize; the Japan International Award for Young Agricultural Researchers, the CGIAR Awards for Outstanding Partnership, Communication and Young Scientist; the Agricultural Merit Order of France; the UNDP South-South Cooperation Excellence Award; and other certificates of recognition from CORAF and FARA.

 


7. What is its research agenda?

AfricaRice research program and partnerships aim at turning the African rice sector into a thriving farm-to-plate continuum that provides the nutritional and food requirements of a young and expanding population, and breaks the chains of poverty by generating capacity for local production, processing and marketing of rice and rapidly decreasing dependence on world markets. This is expected to contribute substantially to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.

AfricaRice R4D program structure was greatly simplified through the creation of highly interactive research programs:

Genetic Diversity and Improvement program covers the area ‘from gene to plant’, and aims to enhance genetic diversity and develop improved rice lines adapted to abiotic and biotic stresses and consumer preferences, using conventional breeding, marker-assisted selection (MAS) and profiting from farmer knowledge.

Sustainable Productivity Enhancement program covers crop and natural resource management (NRM) research related to intensification and diversification and protection of environmental services in the face of climate change, and aims to move research from plot to systems level and to introduce systems thinking in general.

Innovation Systems, Impact Assessment and Policy program aims to generate knowledge that supports the development of rice technologies, policies and institutions to improve livelihoods, nutrition and economic development, and seeks to increase the effectiveness of processes shaping the development and dissemination of sustainable technologies.


The Rice Sector Development program actively promotes the uptake of AfricaRice research products and methodologies and their improvement through capacity building, information exchange, links with development activities and feedback to the three research programs of AfricaRice. It helps package knowledge from research into formats that can be diffused on a wide-scale, e.g. through video or radio scripts, mobile phone technology etc. and will be disseminated through development partners, such as non-governmental organizations, extension systems and with support from private-sector companies. The program will play an active role in the Rice Sector Development Hubs, where research products will be tested and put into use through partnerships with extension projects and the private sector. AfricaRice is positioning itself within the wider development and innovation context for Africa as advocated by the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) of the African Union-New Partnership for Africa's Development (AU-NEPAD) and will be contributing to Pillar IV, led by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). AfricaRice strongly believes in the importance of shared demand articulation and agenda setting to create regional and international public goods, and develop knowledge and innovation capacity within Africa. This is realized through AfricaRice partnership with NARS. The Center is also collaborating with many advanced research institutes to complement the range of expertise needed to tackle the key research for development questions in sub-Saharan Africa, such as the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), the French Research Institute for Development (IRD), the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) , and many Universities from USA, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, UK, Japan, etc. AfricaRice is an important partner in the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), which seeks to be a single coordinated blueprint for global rice research that will allow researchers to address global rice challenges and to be more effective and efficient in getting impacts. The main architects of GRiSP are three CGIAR Centers – the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), AfricaRice, and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) – CIRAD, IRD, and JIRCAS which will play a strategic role with hundreds of other partners worldwide representing governments, the private sector and civil society. IRRI will lead this initiative and also oversee the activities in Asia; AfricaRice will lead the work in Africa, and CIAT in the Latin America & Caribbean region.

 

 

8. What are its research priorities?

Short term
• Raising productivity in farmers’ fields: bridging the yield gaps (‘extension agronomy’, access to inputs, including seed of best-bet varieties)
• Re-working existing stocks of rice knowledge into formats ready for dissemination

Medium term
• Producing the next generation of rice varieties building on the NERICA success: varieties for upland and lowland conditions, resistant to major (a) biotic stresses
• Expanding rice cultivation: tap Africa’s vastly under-utilized rainfed lowlands
• Adopting and adapting agricultural machinery for land preparation, harvest and post-harvest: adding more energy to rice farming
• Building rice value chains: adding value to rice produce (grain quality)
• Harmonizing rice policies (variety release, seed legislation, input subsidies, import tariffs…)
• Diversifying rice-based systems

Long term
• Invest in research and extension capacity building in Africa
• Adapt to and mitigate effects of climate change

 

 


9. How is it funded?

The Center receives funding from a wide variety of sources, including its member countries.

AfricaRice is a CGIAR Consortium Research Center. This African ownership and international support through the CGIAR make AfricaRice unique among the international agricultural research centers. The highest governing body of the Center is the Council of Ministers of Agriculture of member states, with statutory meetings being held once every two years. Like other CGIAR-supported centers, AfricaRice has a Board of Trustees composed of nominees from member states and from the CGIAR.

The National Experts Committee composed of Directors-General of national agricultural research systems (NARS) from all member states meets ahead of the meeting of the Council of Ministers to review the Center’s Strategic Plan and joint activities and make recommendations to the Council of Ministers for approval by resolution. Member states make annual contributions to the budget of the Center and since 2007 there is a renewed commitment.

 

 

 

Rice Crisis

1. What is actually responsible for the increasing price of rice?

  • Many factors explain the current high price of rice. First of all, since 2002 the global rice production level has fallen short of consumption, requiring continuous appeals to the world's reserves to bridge the gap between supply and aggregate demand. The drawdown of globally held rice stocks to compensate for production shortfall has resulted in their gradual decline from 147.3 million tonnes in 2001 to 74.1 million tonnes in 2008.

  • A compounding factor has been the exports ban and barriers by major players. In July and October 2007, Vietnam and India respectively, the second and third largest rice exporters banned rice supply on the world market in an attempt to contain soaring prices in their domestic markets and to replenish their security stocks. Since January 2008, these two countries have been emulated by Cambodia and Egypt which have also banned rice exports. Other countries such as China and Argentina have greatly increased export taxes and other barriers to rice exportations. In a notoriously thin and segmented international rice market, such barriers to trade exacerbated significantly rice supply shortage and price variability.

  • Other contributing factors are the rising price of oil and freight, depreciation of the US dollar, additional pressure on agricultural resources because of biofuel production etc.

 

 

2. Where can the NERICA come in to alleviate the problem?

  • Greater availability and access of rice seeds of improved varieties such as upland and lowland NERICA® and Sahel varieties for the irrigated conditions using an integrated approach could help alleviate the pressure on domestic demand. Some of the NERICA® varieties because of their adaptation to the local stresses and short growth duration which permit double cropping are popular with farmers.

  • However, it must be clear that NERICA® and other improved varieties are an important component – indeed the basis of rice production – but they have to be put in the right setting. This includes improved access to credit, seed, mineral fertilizer and farm machinery (for land preparation and harvest and post-harvest practices); diffusion of best-bet knowledge on rice management options, enhanced infrastructure (roads, water control), improved links between rice production, processing and marketing and an enabling policy environment.

  • AfricaRice intends to facilitate and provide technical assistance to national agricultural research systems (NARS) to produce foundation seed and certified seed of major improved varieties for the three main rice ecologies (upland, rainfed lowland and irrigated lowland).

 

 

3. As an institute, what is your opinion on bringing down the price of rice?

  • Our option for bringing down the price of rice rests essentially on the development through the increase of domestic rice production. Both short-term palliative measures and medium- to long-term sectoral development measures are needed. Short-term measures include the reduction of customs duties and taxes on imports in rice as well as the promotion of greater access to seed and other critical inputs such as fertilizer, pesticide, agricultural credit and farm machinery to raise the productivity of rice farmers.

  • Government should ensure that measures such as exemption from customs duties and taxes on imports of rice are limited in time in order not to impede the competitiveness of local production.

  • In the medium- and long-term, tax on all critical inputs, on-farm cost-saving agricultural machinery and equipments and post-harvest technologies for all players along the rice supply chain need to be reduced. Governments have also key roles to play in facilitating access to financial services and credit for stakeholders in domestic rice sector; increase investment in water control technologies; expand the rice areas under irrigation; increase investment in regional research capacity to support the development of rice varieties resistant to major pests and diseases and sufficiently robust to withstand drought and climate change induced shocks; and accelerate the rhythm of investment in rural infrastructure as road, transport, storage facility communication infrastructure should enhance rice farmers’ capacity to response to market signals and improve their access to market.

 

 

4. There was news some months back on genetically modified rice. Does the current increase in price of rice have anything to do with this type of rice found in countries like Nigeria and Ghana?

  • No, there is no link. There is no GMO rice cultivated in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). All rice varieties cultivated in SSA are normal rice varieties (bred through conventional breeding methods).

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Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)

 

     

AfricaRice is one of the 15 international agricultural research Centers that are members of the CGIAR Consortium.
 It is also an intergovernmental association of
African member countries.
 

 

Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)
01 B.P. 2031, Cotonou, Benin
Tel +229 6418 1313/6418 1414/6418 1515/6418 1616;
     +229  21 35 01 88
Fax +229 6422 7809; +229 21 35 05 56
Email africarice@cgiar.org

 

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