Dr Kanayo F Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), announced that two project concept notes from Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) totaling USD 4 million were being considered by IFAD for inclusion in its grant pipeline for 2016, which will help strengthen the rice sector and food security in sub-Saharan Africa.
“AfricaRice offers IFAD tremendous opportunities, because you have strong partnership in sub-Saharan Africa, with national agricultural research systems, academic institutions, farmers’ associations and non-governmental organizations that IFAD can benefit from,” said Dr Nwanze during his visit to AfricaRice headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on 8 March 2016.
Emphasizing the importance of sharing knowledge and best practices, Dr Nwanze said, “We need to invest in explicit and tacit knowledge management approaches based on your experiences and lessons learnt. This is an area which will benefit from a stronger partnership.”
Dr Nwanze led a high-level delegation to AfricaRice, including IFAD Associate Vice-President and Chief of Staff Mr Henock Kifle and IFAD Country Representative in Côte d’Ivoire Mr Abdoul Barry.
Dr Nwanze underlined IFAD’s conviction that Africa holds the key to food security globally. The continent receives about 50% of IFAD’s total investments. “But no development is possible without research and no peace without development. This means there can be no peace without research, which helps combat rural hunger and poverty,” he explained at a press conference held at AfricaRice.
AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley extended a warm welcome to the IFAD delegation, particularly to Dr Nwanze, who was previously AfricaRice Director General (from 1996 to 2006) and was instrumental in promoting the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) varieties developed by AfricaRice.
“This important visit will further deepen the long-standing and dynamic partnership between AfricaRice and IFAD,” Dr Roy-Macauley said, gratefully acknowledging the support from IFAD to AfricaRice over the years to carry out its important mission, leading to positive impact in the lives of rice farming communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
He highlighted some of the achievements of the IFAD-supported projects carried out by AfricaRice that include the following:
• More productive rice value chains in sub-Saharan Africa with focus on good agricultural practices, rice seed systems and harvest and post-harvest practices within the Rice Sector Development Hubs;
• A multi-stakeholder platform process to help identify, organize and empower value-chain actors in the inland valleys
• The development and promotion of an innovative farmer-learning approach called Participatory Learning and Action Research (PLAR)
• The scaling out of NERICA and other improved rice varieties across Africa
• Local language farmer-learning videos on rice productivity-enhancing technologies, which have reached over a million farmers and helped them improve their knowledge and farming practices
Dr Roy-Macauley informed Dr Nwanze that AfricaRice is resuming fully its research activities in its main research station in M’bé, near Bouaké in Côte d’Ivoire. A video of the M’bé dam, which is a boon for AfricaRice researchers as well as for the rice farming households in and around M’bé, was shown to the delegation.
“We have ambitious plans to develop new technologies to boost the rice sector in Côte d’Ivoire and the Mano River Union,” stated Dr Roy-Macauley. He mentioned new initiatives of AfricaRice and its partners, such as the development of a business model of the rice value chain in Côte d’Ivoire.
As the visit of the IFAD delegation coincided with the 2016 International Women’s Day celebration, Dr Harold Roy-Macauley referred specifically to a women-friendly rice parboiling system, called GEM, recently developed by AfricaRice which is making a difference in the lives of more than a thousand women rice processors in Benin.
Appreciating this focus of AfricaRice, Dr Nwanze said, “IFAD’s experience shows that when you invest in a man, you invest in an individual, but when you invest in a rural woman, you invest in community. And a cohesive community is a solid basis for stability in any country.” He added that 58% of the participants of IFAD projects are women. Dr Nwanze was invited to participate in the International Women’s Day celebration at AfricaRice.
“The future is bright for AfricaRice. Rice means food for many Africans, so I think you have tremendous opportunity for the future as long as you continue to deliver on innovation as well as knowledge,” Dr Nwanze said at the end of his visit. He urged AfricaRice to work closely with the IFAD country office in Côte d’Ivoire.