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Brief history

Brief History



  • The Conference of the Plenipotentiaries for the establishment of the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) – now known as the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) – was held in Dakar, Senegal.  The Constitution of WARDA was ratified by 11 West African countries (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo) at the Conference. 


  • The Association was established with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).



  • The Secretariat of the Association officially began operating under the first Executive Secretary Mr Jacques Diouf (1971-1977) from its headquarters located in Monrovia, Liberia.


  • The initial mandate of the Association included research, training, development, rice policy formulation and intraregional cooperation.


  • Benin and Nigeria joined the Association.



  • Guinea-Bissau joined the Association.


  • Mr Sidi Coulibaly was appointed as the Executive Secretary (1977-1983).



  • Guinea joined the Association.



  • Chad joined the Association.


  • Dr Hyacinthe Leroux was appointed as the Executive Secretary (1983-1984).



  • Dr Alieu M.B. Jagne was appointed as the Acting Executive Secretary (1984-1987).



  • The Association came under the aegis of the CGIAR with a broadened mandate, while retaining its status as an intergovernmental association with governance provided by both a Board of Trustees and a Council of Ministers, its highest oversight body. The position of the Executive Secretary was changed to that of the Director General.



  • Dr Eugene Terry was appointed as the first Director General (1987-1996).


  • Because of instability in Liberia, the Association moved its headquarters from Monrovia to M’Bé, Côte d’Ivoire, with a new organizational structure and strategic plan.



  • The Sahel Regional Station was established in Saint Louis, Senegal, reinforcing the Center’s presence in the country to work on the Sahel irrigated rice ecology.



  • Cameroon joined the Association.


  • The Nigeria Regional Station was established in Ibadan on the campus of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) with a focus on lowland rice.


  • Rice Task Forces were established as the primary unit through which collaborative research activities with national systems were planned and executed.


  • The new WARDA headquarters and principal research station were inaugurated at M’bé in Côte d’Ivoire.



  • The first New Rice for Africa (NERICA) varieties were developed. The NERICA varieties were the first wide-scale success of crossing of the two cultivated species: Asian rice (Oryza sativa) and African rice (Oryza glaberrima).



  • Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze was appointed as Director General (1996-2006).



  • The Millennium CGIAR King Baudouin Award was bestowed on the Association, attesting to the scientific excellence of the Association.



  • Ivorian Government honored Director General Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze with the ‘Commander in the National Order of Merit’. It honored Dr Monty Jones, Dr Kouamé Miézan, Dr Sitapha Diatta, and Mr Mark Etsiba with the ‘Officer of the National Order of Merit.’



  • The Association faced yet another a challenge with the political instability in the host country of Côte d’Ivoire. It established temporary headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and redeployed most of its scientific staff to Bamako, Mali.



  • Because of the increasing demand for the services and products of the Association beyond its traditional constituency of West and Central Africa, the name “Africa Rice Center (WARDA)” was adopted.


  • Senegal-based research team received Senegal President’s award for developing ASI rice thresher, the most widely used thresher in the country.



  • Dr Monty Jones’ groundbreaking work on the New Rice for Africa (NERICA), which was carried out within the Center in the mid-90s, earned him the prestigious World Food Prize.


  • With renewed political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, the decision was taken to relocate all Headquarters staff to the IITA station in Cotonou, Benin.



  • A new temporary Headquarters of the Center was established in Cotonou, Benin.


  • The Eastern and Central African Rice Research Network (ECARRN) –  now defunct – was established in Tanzania.



  • Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck was appointed as Director General (2006-2013).


  • AfricaRice scientist Dr Moussa Sié won the Fukui International Koshihikari Rice Prize from Japan for the development of the lowland NERICAs (NERICA-L), adapted for both rain-fed and irrigated lowlands. He also received Burkina Faso Presidential Award.


  • AfricaRice won the United Nations Award for South-South Triangular Partnership in recognition of its NERICA initiative.


  • First Africa Rice Congress was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.



  • The Council of Minister formally approved the expansion of the geographic mandate of the Association.


  • Four Eastern and Central African countries (Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Uganda) join the Center.



  • Director General Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck was invited by the UN Secretary General as a lead discussant for the UN high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


  • Egypt joined the Center.


  • ROCARIZ rice network received the CGIAR Outstanding Partnership Award.



  • The Council of Ministers took a historic decision at the 27th Ordinary Session in Lomé, Togo, to officially change the Center’s name to “Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)” and to no longer refer to it as WARDA.


  • Gabon joined AfricaRice.


  • A new East and Southern Africa Regional Office was opened in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (suspended in 2017).



  • Madagascar joined AfricaRice.


  • AfricaRice received the South-South Cooperation Excellence Award 2010 from UNDP.


  • The CGIAR Outstanding Promising Young Scientist Award was presented to AfricaRice scientist Dr Jonne Rodenburg.


  • The CGIAR Outstanding Communication Award was presented to AfricaRice scientist Dr Paul Van Mele.


  • AfricaRice received an ‘outstanding’ rating in an external evaluation of the 15 CGIAR Centers for its research and scientific publications, financial and institutional health, and the perceptions of its stakeholders.


  • Second Africa Rice Congress held in Bamako, Mali.


  • AfricaRice instituted Dr Robert Carsky Annual Award to recognize the most outstanding Internationally Recruited Staff (IRS) and the most outstanding General Support Staff (GSS).


  • The Rice Task Force mechanism was reintroduced, but on an Africa-wide basis – with strong ownership by national systems – to help build critical mass around major thematic areas of the rice sector. The Africa-wide Rice Breeding Task Force was launched.



  • AfricaRice’s 2011–2020 Strategic Plan (‘Boosting Africa’s Rice Sector’) was approved by the Center’s Council of Ministers during its 28th Ordinary Session held in Gambia, 22–23 September 2011.


  • AfricaRice scientist Dr Jonne Rodenburg won the 2011 Japan International Award for Young Researchers.


  • Africa-wide Rice Agronomy Task Force, Rice Processing and Value Addition Task Force and Gender Task Force were launched.


  • AfricaRice celebrates 40th anniversary.



  • AfricaRice scientist Dr Matty Demont won the 2012 Louis Malassis Young Promising Scientist Prize. An international research team led by Dr Demont, received T W Schultz Prize.


  • AfricaRice scientist Dr Moussa Sié received the title of ‘Chevalier in the National Order of Merit’ of Burkina Faso.


  • AfricaRice launched Rice Sector Development Hubs mechanism. Hubs are zones where rice research products will be integrated across the rice value chain to achieve development outcomes and impact. Hubs for the main rice ecologies are selected by national agricultural research systems in each country.



  • A new generation of high-performing rice varieties was launched by the Africa Rice Breeding Task Force under a new brand called “ARICA” – which stands for “Advanced Rice Varieties for Africa.”


  • Country offices were opened on a temporary basis in Liberia and Sierra Leone (closed in 2017) to coordinate projects under the umbrella of the Word Bank-funded West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP).


  • Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck received the Legion of Honor from France.


  • Third Africa Rice Congress held in Yaoundé, Cameroon.


  • A new reference book, “Realizing Africa’s Rice Promise,” which provides a comprehensive overview of Africa’s rice sector, was released.


  • Dr Adama Traoré was named Interim Director General of AfricaRice (2013-2015) with the departure of the Director General Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, who was nominated by the President of Senegal as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Equipment.


  • Rwanda joined AfricaRice.


  • The Africa-wide Rice Mechanization Task Force was launched.



  • AfricaRice scientists – Drs Koichi Futakuchi, Moussa Sié and Kazuki Saito – received the Best Paper Award from Crop Science Society of Japan.


  • Madagascar Country Office was established.


  • AfricaRice mobile app was recognized as the “Mobile App of the Week” by Infinite Monkeys, which is the world’s largest “Do it yourself” (DIY) app publisher.


  • AfricaRice scientist Dr Gaudiose Mujawamariya and research assistant Ms Esther Leah Achandi received the Young Rice Scientists Award at the 4th International Rice Congress.



  • Dr Harold Roy-Macauley was appointed as Director General (2015 - to date).


  • AfricaRice Scientist, Dr Kazuki Saito, won France's prestigious Louis Malassis Young Promising Scientist Prize.


  • AfricaRice received FAO’s 70th Anniversary Medal for outstanding contributions to food security and sustainable agriculture in Africa.


  • AfricaRice Scientist Dr Olupomi Ajayi received the 50th Entomological Society of Nigeria Golden Jubilee Award.


  • AfricaRice Board approved the return of headquarters to Côte d’Ivoire in line with the resolution of the Council of Ministers. Most headquarters functions were officially transferred from Cotonou, Benin to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. A phased return of most of the research activities from Cotonou to AfricaRice’s 700-hectare research station at M’bé, near Bouaké was planned.



  • AfricaRice Board held its first meeting at its new Headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.


  • Ethiopia joined AfricaRice.


  • ‘Green Innovation Center’, an initiative of BMZ, was set up at AfricaRice in Benin.

  • The AfricaRice Regional Training Center at Saint Louis, Senegal, was inaugurated.


  • A regional training center was set up in Saint Louis, Senegal, to provide vocational training to rice value chain actors.


  • AfricaRice Scientist Dr K Djaman received the 2016 Educational Aids Blue Ribbon Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) for paper co-authored by him.



  • Africa-Korea Rice Breeding Laboratory (AKRiL) was inaugurated at AfricaRice Regional Station in Senegal.


  • AfricaRice initiated the Continental Investment Plan for accelerating Rice Self-sufficiency in Africa (CIPRiSSA) to provide support to African countries as they strive to attain rice self-sufficiency.


  • Research staff and laboratories were relocated to M’Bé, Côte d’Ivoire, from Cotonou.



  • A new world-class genebank was constructed at M’bé station for the medium-and long-term collections transferred from Cotonou and Ibadan respectively. A concept to transform the new genebank into the Africa Rice Biodiversity Center was developed.


  • Mozambique joined AfricaRice.



  • An AfricaRice Project Office was established in Uganda.

  • AfricaRice wins Al-Sumait Food Security Prize 2019.

  • Kenya joined AfricaRice.


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