32nd Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice Council of Ministers

Updated: May 26

Alignment of AfricaRice with One CGIAR acclaimed



. High Expectations from the Alignment.


The decision taken by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) to join One CGIAR, endorsed by the AfricaRice Council of Ministers (COM) in September 2020, was unanimously acclaimed at the just-concluded 32nd Ordinary Session of the COM. The 32nd COM was held virtually under the aegis of the Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation of the Arab Republic of Egypt, His Excellency Al-Sayed el-Quseir, in his capacity as AfricaRice COM Chair.


“The COM acknowledges the very important work carried out by the AfricaRice Board and Management in its engagement with One CGIAR to align their governance and operational frameworks,” stated the COM Chair, reporting on the deliberations of the 32nd COM. “We encourage One CGIAR to take into consideration, during the transition process, the mission-critical role of AfricaRice, the special support provided by countries hosting AfricaRice, and the various clauses of the AfricaRice Constitution.”


“We also encourage One CGIAR, while it rolls out its agenda, to provide all the necessary support to AfricaRice to strengthen its capacity and catalyze the required partnerships and resources for delivering on the mission accorded to the Center by its 28 member countries of strengthening the rice sector and ensuring rice self-sufficiency in Africa,” he added.


The 32nd COM endorsed the new 2030 Rice Research and Innovation Strategy for Africa and expressed its strong belief that AfricaRice, joining One CGIAR, and aligning the new Rice Strategy with that of One CGIAR, would facilitate the federation of efforts to transform rice-based agri-food systems in Africa, which would result in improved nutrition, health, food security, and economic growth on the continent and contribute positively to achieving relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Strategy would also amplify the achievements of AfricaRice, increase its visibility, and contribute to the creation of impact at scale.


AfricaRice is a CGIAR Research Center as well as an intergovernmental association of 28 African member countries, with the COM as its highest governing body. The COM of AfricaRice meets every two years to review the state of progress and pass resolutions to enhance the performance of the Center. The COM is supported by the AfricaRice National Experts Committee (NEC), which comprises the Directors General of National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) of AfricaRice member countries. As the technical advisory arm to COM, the NEC meets prior to the COM meetings, to examine the issues that are tabled to COM for decision-making.


Nineteen out of 28 member countries, represented by their ministers or by officially designated representatives, attended the 32nd COM. Some key partners also attended the 32nd COM as invited observers.


Landmark Event

The 32nd COM was a landmark event for several reasons. It was the first ordinary session of COM held after 2018, as the COVID-19 pandemic had delayed its organization by two years. It was also special because major and far-reaching strategic issues were discussed, pertaining to the following:

  • Amendments proposed to the AfricaRice Constitution to align the Center’s governance instruments and operational framework to those of One CGIAR,

  • New Rice Strategy aligned to the One CGIAR 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy, which would guide rice research-for-development (R4D) actions in Africa, from now to 2030, and

  • The proposal of AfricaRice Management to establish an innovative financing mechanism that would contribute to the sustainable operations of AfricaRice and its partner NARIs in member countries.

The 32nd COM also marked the official launch of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of AfricaRice, with the release of an impact brochure that delineates the long-term and large-scale impact of the work realized by AfricaRice over five decades of existence.


One of the key partners invited as observers, the Vice President for Finance and Corporate Services of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Bank of Investment and Development (EBID), Dr Mabouba Diagne, presented a goodwill message on behalf of the President of EBID. Dr Diagne underlined the Bank’s willingness to support AfricaRice and the ECOWAS to put in place innovative financing structures that will allow the region to have sustainable access to high quality rice seeds necessary to ensure rice self-sufficiency.


The 32nd COM deliberations also focused on the comprehensive reports of the AfricaRice Board Chair and Director General, relating to the Center’s achievements, developments, challenges, and strategic orientations. The COM’s Endorsements and Resolutions were based on the report and recommendations of NEC after having examined the dossiers tabled at the 32nd COM.


Appreciation of the achievements of AfricaRice


The 32nd COM recognized the important work carried out by the AfricaRice Board and Management, despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The AfricaRice Director General, Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, and his team, were highly commended for effective advocacy efforts that resulted in strengthening strategic partnerships, stabilizing the financial health of the Center, and boosting rice sector development in Africa.


The 32nd COM noted with satisfaction that the cumulative gross annual benefits from AfricaRice research over the past 30 years were estimated to be US$ 37 billion, representing a gain of US$ 3.49 for every US$ 1 invested.


The 32nd COM praised the Center and its scientists for receiving prestigious awards between 2019-2021, including:

  1. The Al-Sumait Food Security Award to AfricaRice, in 2019, from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, for enhancing food security in Africa;

  2. The Republic of Korea Presidential Award to AfricaRice in 2021, for exemplary and fruitful partnership with the Korean Research and Development Administration under the Korea-Africa Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (KAFACI);

  3. The Norman Borlaug Field Award to Dr Elliott Dossou-Yovo, AfricaRice Scientist, in 2021;

  4. The American Society of Agronomy Emerging Leader for African Agricultural Transformation Award to Dr Ali Ibrahim, AfricaRice Scientist, in 2021;

  5. The Japanese Society of Crop Science Best Paper Award to Dr Kazuki Saito, AfricaRice Scientist, in 2020; and

  6. The One Planet Fellowship Award to Mr Jean-Martial Johnson, AfricaRice Research Associate, in 2021.


The 32nd COM appreciated the fact that despite the unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AfricaRice delivered important results during the period of 2019 to 2021, which are producing substantive benefits for rice farmers, producers, and consumers in Africa.


These include notably the following:

● 44 high-yielding, climate-resilient and nutritious varieties released in 10 countries and the provision of seeds of improved varieties/hybrids covering about 2.57 million ha on the continent;

● Crop management innovations, such as decision-making mobile apps and e-learning tools (WeedManager, RiceAdvice-lite for direct management of fertilizer application by farmers, Smart-valleys e-learning toolkit for mapping inland valleys and improving water use efficiency);

● Small GEM rice parboiling system fueled by rice husks, which reduces drudgery and pollution during the parboiling process;

● Sustainable rice-vegetable and rice-fish integrated systems, which improve income, nutrition and health of faring communities;

● Policy options and advice for increasing farmers’ resilience to climate change and for accelerating rice self-sufficiency in Africa.


The 32nd COM also applauded the impact of AfricaRice innovations, such as the NERICA varieties, which have brought food security to 7.2 million people in 16 countries, and the RiceAdvice app, which has generated recommendations that have resulted in increasing yield by 20% and profit by 23% of 124,000 rice farmers, with a net gain of US$ 59 million reported in Nigeria.


It also noted efforts made to communicate these important results through the publication of 172 scientific articles by AfricaRice scientists and their partners, including national scientists, in highly reputed journals, between 2019 and 2021.


Appreciation of support provided to member countries


The 32nd COM commended AfricaRice for various specific support provided to member countries, which contributed to boosting rice sector development and capacity building. These included funding for R4D activities to the tune of US$ 9.11 million over 2018-2021, policy measures developed in partnership with member countries to mitigate the COVID-19-related impacts on domestic rice value chains as well as institutional support to key partners that influence policies in Africa for boosting rice sector development. The Center also catalyzed seed production of climate-resilient varieties and good agronomic practices in partnership with public- and private-sector partners, to support COVID-19 pandemic-related emergency programs of several member countries.


Conclusion

At the end of its deliberations, the 32nd COM issued statements of Endorsements and Resolutions (Annex 1) to effectively improve the performance of AfricaRice in implementing its mission in the face of the emerging and complex challenges, not only of the rice sector in Africa, but also as regards food systems, in general, in a climate crisis.


On behalf of the Association of AfricaRice, the Director General of the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) of Uganda, Dr Ambrose Agona, conveyed profound gratitude to H.E. the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt; the Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation of Egypt; the President of the Agricultural Research Centre of Egypt, and the people of Egypt, for their wholehearted support to AfricaRice and the organization of the 32nd COM.


The COM Chair expressed his sincere appreciation to all COM members for their active participation in the deliberations, thanking in particular the Honorable Minister of Agricultural Development of Chad, Madame Kamougué Déné-Assoum, who volunteered to serve as the Vice Chairperson for the 32nd COM as well as to the Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Madagascar, Mr Harifidy Ramilison, and the Representative of the Honorable Minister of Agriculture of The Gambia, Dr Demba B. Jallow, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture of The Gambia, who both served as rapporteurs.


The Chair of COM also thanked the AfricaRice Board Chair and the financial and technical partners of AfricaRice for their continued support to the Association. He conveyed COM’s gratitude to NEC members for their judicious examination of the AfricaRice dossiers. He pointed out that NEC, led by the President of the Agricultural Research Center of Egypt, Dr Mohamed Soliman, has been effective in delivering on its mission despite the challenges and risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Chair of COM praised the Director General of AfricaRice, Secretary of the AfricaRice COM, as an invaluable asset to AfricaRice for ably steering the Center during a very challenging period and commended AfricaRice staff members for delivering award-winning research outputs and outcomes.


He congratulated the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Madagascar, the Honorable Mr Harifidy Ramilison, on being selected by COM as the next Chair of COM for two years and wished him and Madagascar a

successful tenure.


The in-coming Chair of COM, Mr Harifidy Ramilison, thanking the out-going Chair of COM, declared his strong commitment to support AfricaRice in its mission to help its member countries boost their rice sector and in implementing the Resolutions passed by the 32nd COM. He was honored to release the AfricaRice flagship publication ‘50 years of rice research for development’ in English and French, which highlights key long-term and large-scale impacts delivered by R4D activities carried out by AfricaRice and its partners. The release of this publication marked the official launch of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of AfricaRice, which had been delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Annex 1: Endorsements and Resolutions of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the AfricaRice COM

Endorsements

  1. The proposed amendments to the AfricaRice Constitution

  2. The New 2030 Rice Research and Innovation Strategy for Africa

  3. The request from AfricaRice Management to establish an innovative financing mechanism that will contribute to raising fund for the sustainable operations of the AfricaRice

  4. The choice of Madagascar as member State chairing COM for the next two years

  5. The initiation of a search by the Board of Trustees of AfricaRice and the appointment by the COM of a new Director General in December 2022

Resolutions

  1. Member States should endeavor to pay their annual contributions in a timely manner and pay all their arrears by the end of 2023.

  2. NARIs of member States of AfricaRice and AfricaRice Management should establish and execute plans for rendering more visible AfricaRice as well as its research products to governments of members States of AfricaRice.

  3. Member States and Management of AfricaRice should work with Development Banks, such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), to exploit ways and means of sourcing a one-off payment of arrears of annual contribution from rice value chain projects, where possible.

  4. AfricaRice Management should lead the development of an innovative financing mechanism involving partnerships with the private sector and market-led financing approaches, to raise additional funds for sustaining the operations of the AfricaRice, with considerations given to the development of solid business models, benefit sharing especially between AfricaRice and its partner NARIs of member States, intellectual property rights issues and measures for the protection of farmers’ rights.

  5. AfricaRice Management should support member States in using strategic information derived from the Continental Investment Plan for accelerating Rice Self Sufficiency in Africa (CIPRiSSA), established for 11 countries with support from AfricaRice, to advocate for investments that would lead to increased performance of rice value chains and the attainment of rice self-sufficiency in member States.

  6. AfricaRice Management should consolidate its links with NARIs, sub-regional research and innovation institutions, and regional economic communities, especially in the Central and Southern African regions of the continent, in a bid to strengthen their capacity in rice research and development as well as the policy environment, to enable the creation of impact on the livelihood of the African populace.

  7. The Board of Trustees and Management of AfricaRice and One CGIAR should pursue their work in aligning their governance and operational frameworks without compromising the tenets of the AfricaRice Constitution and disrupting the privileges AfricaRice benefits from its host countries.

  8. One CGIAR, in its partnership with AfricaRice, should provide all the necessary support to AfricaRice that will result in strengthening the capacity of AfricaRice as well as its partner NARIs in member States, to deliver on the mission accorded to it by its 28 member States of strengthening the rice sector and attaining rice self-sufficiency in Africa.