The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 March 2013
In the next five years, it is expected that most of the rice consumed in the region will be home grown, as the Africa Rice Centre steps up its work.
All eyes are now set on Dr. Papa Seck to help fulfil Africa’s dream of feeding itself by 2020.
According to report from APO, the recent news of unprecedented growth rates of rice production and productivity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) based on an analysis of independent data by the Africa Rice Centre (AfricaRice), coupled with a remarkable upturn in the funding of the Centre – were highlighted as “historic developments in rice R&D in SSA” by the AfricaRice Board of Trustees at its just-concluded meeting.
Who is Dr. Papa Seck?
“Research by AfricaRice and its partners has contributed significantly to the surge in rice production and yield in terms of policy advice, improved seed and cropping practices, technical information and knowledge, capacity development and support to the development of rice markets and value chains in SSA,” the Board stated.
“We are also extremely proud of the Director General Dr Papa Seck and the staff of AfricaRice for their successful resource mobilization efforts, which have led to a tripling of the Centre’s budget since 2006, when Dr Seck took up his functions,” the Board announced.
“In 2013, AfricaRice’s budget went up by 41% compared to last year, which is the single largest increase in the history of the Centre ” remarked the Board. “We are very grateful to the donors who have made this increase possible, as it will ensure that we can maintain the highest quality programs while expanding our efforts and impacts across Africa.”
Explaining that investments in rice R&D in SSA are paying off, the Board observed, “We fully deserve the confidence of donors and we will do everything possible to live up to their trust and the expectations of rice stakeholders in SSA by continuing to demonstrate excellence, effectiveness, accountability, and transparency at all levels.”
The Board highlighted a number of notable accomplishments of the Centre, among them:
• Impressive quality of science of high relevance to AfricaRice member countries
• 40% increase in the number of training workshops organized by AfricaRice, with 64% increase in the number of national participants, including 50% increase in women participants in 2012 compared to 2011
• 20% increase in publications by AfricaRice and its national partners in scientific journals in 2012 compared to 2011
• Increase in the number of PhD students from 43 in 2011 to 46 in 2012 and MSc students from 51 to 56
• Launching of the Rice Sector Development Hubs across Africa – an innovative approach to achieve development impacts at scale. So far, 56 Hubs in 20 African countries have been selected by national partners.
• Sustained efforts to develop the next generation of rice scientists in the continent through donor-supported training programs and the Africa-wide Rice Task Force mechanism
• Targeted support to specific countries with special needs to assist them in the development of their rice sector, in addition to addressing the regional and continental priorities in rice research for development
• Active leadership in implementing activities of the CGIAR Research Program on Rice – the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) – in Africa
• Increased visibility and recognition through international science awards and national honors
As part of AfricaRice’s new vision and strategy to decentralize its activities across the continent to be able to more effectively address the needs of different countries, rice ecologies and market environments, the development plan of the Centre was discussed and relevant recommendations were made regarding its implementation.
The Board analyzed the feasibility of a phased return of AfricaRice’s headquarters to Côte d’Ivoire and took note of the engagement of the Ivorian Government. The Director General was encouraged to pursue this issue with the Government.
After examining matters relating to governance, financial management, business continuity, risk management and gender, the Board made recommendations to further improve the quality and performance of AfricaRice. The Centrer’s new policy on Intellectual Assets was approved.
The Board extended a warm welcome to Prof. Eric Tollens, an internationally renowned agricultural economist from Belgium, as a new Board member. “Prof. Tollens’ breadth of experience and in-depth knowledge of both rice in Africa and AfricaRice will be invaluable to us,” declared the Board.
It bade a fond farewell to Mr Engida Getachew, former Board Chair and member, thanking him for his outstanding service and guidance to the Centre during a challenging period.
The Board gratefully acknowledged the generous support of AfricaRice donors and the close collaboration of its national and international partners. It recognized the strong leadership of the Centre and the dedication of its highly motivated staff. “AfricaRice is well positioned to meet the challenges ahead,” the Board concluded.
Papa Seck has vision and is a man on a mission. Speaking to the AfricaRice Board in 2006, he said:
“I am of the conviction that the future of rice farming is in Africa. Unlike Asia, this continent has a great untapped potential, which can be seen in its vast stretches of land and barely used water resources (e.g. Sub-Saharan Africa has 130 million ha of lowlands of which only 3.9 million ha are under cultivation). The competitiveness of local rice production in SSA is now an established fact.”
Let us hope that Dr. Papa Seck, does not dash the hope of AfricaRice becoming the pioneer and vanguard of rice production in Africa, by joining many others – such as Professor Monty Jones (the world acclaimed rice research guru) – in seeking an alternative career in African politics. African needs you – Papa Seck.
About Dr. Papa Seck:
Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck is a specialist in agricultural policy analysis and strategy. He is a permanent member of the Senegal Academy of Sciences and has the rank of Director of Research.
He is currently the Director General of the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), which is one of the 15 international Centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
In addition, Dr. Seck is on the advisory board of several research bodies, including the Strategic Orientation Council of Agreenium, France; the Executive Committee of the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR); and the Executive Committee of the Gender & Diversity AWARD Program.
Before taking up this position, Dr Seck was the Director General of the Agricultural Research Institute of Senegal (ISRA) and the Technical Advisor to the Prime Minister of Senegal; Elected Chair of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA); Member of the Governing Board of the West and Central African Council for Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD); Member of the AfricaRice Board of Trustees; and the African Representative to the CGIAR Executive Committee.
Dr Seck has received the title of Chevalier in the Order of Agricultural Merit of France, a Certificate of Recognition from FARA, a Medal of Honor from (CORAF/WECARD), a United Nations Award in his capacity as AfricaRice Director General and an Award of Recognition from the Agriculture Ministry of Mali presented at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the country.
He has also received the title of the Chevalier in the National Order of Lion and Officer in the Order of Merit of Senegal.
Dr Seck was among the 4 International Experts selected by the United-Nations Secretary General to make a presentation on the Millennium Development Goals before the Heads of States and Governments of the world.
He has authored or co-authored 80 publications, including articles, papers in international conferences with scientific committees, books and forewords for more than 10 books.