Rwanda is optimistic of reaping more benefits through its association with a top African agricultural research centre, the Africa Rice Centre, also known as AfricaRice.
The Cabinet last Friday approved a draft law ratifying the “Accession for Rwanda to the Africa Rice Centre.”
According to Agriculture Minister, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Rwanda previously benefited without membership but is now due to accrue extra benefits.
“We have been benefiting from AfricaRice without being members. This will allow us even better benefits,” said Dr Kalibata.
With membership, she said, the country stands to benefit from “new varieties of seeds, research and financing.”
The institution carries out research on new rice varieties suitable for various environments and distributes them to countries.
“We will also benefit from research programmes on various aspects of rice – for example, disease and pest management and others. AfricaRice is responsible for the famous Nerica Rice and has gained repute in the whole of Africa,” Kalibata said.
NERICA, which stands for “New Rice for Africa”, is a rice variety developed as a cross-breed between Asian rice (Oryza sativa) and African rice (Oryza glaberrima) rice varieties, is aimed at improving yields among African farmers.
The Africa Rice Centre is based in Cotonou, Benin. It runs regional research stations in Saint-Louis, Senegal, Ibadan-Nigeria and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
In July, the African Union (AU) and AfricaRice signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly promote the rice sector on the continent through research, development, supportive policies and capacity building.
This was in recognition of the growing importance of rice as a strategic crop for Africa’s food security and poverty reduction.
The MoU focuses on three areas: policy research and analysis; promotion of production technologies and agricultural innovation systems; provision of policy communications, facilitation of dialogue to inform and improve the design and implementation of food and agricultural policies in and among member states.