Official launch of the RICOWAS project. January 18, 2023 in Bamako

The official launch of the RICOWAS project « Scaling up climate-resilient rice production in West Africa », took place this morning, January 18, 2023 in Bamako. The project is financed by the Adaptation Fund (AF) and implemented by the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) with the collaboration of the Regional Center of Specialization on Rice, hosted by the Institute of Rural Economy of Mali (CRS-Riz/IER), the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD) and the Cornell University, for a 14M USD budget over a 4-year period.

With the presence of His Excellency Mr. Modibo Keïta, Minister of Rural Development of Mali, representatives of the beneficiary countries, national institutions, technical and financial partners, partner project managers, representatives of community organizations and the civil society, representatives of research institutions and the media, came together to take part in the event.

In his opening speech, Mr. Nabil Ben Khatra, Executive Secretary of the Sahara and Sahel Observatory went over the objectives of the project, reminding of the Organization choice to turn its attention to possible solutions and restating its commitment to do everyhing possible to achieve them.

Mr. Modibo Sylla, Director General of the Institute of Rural Economy of Mali highlighted the importance of partnerships and networking, stressing that the commitment of institutions such as the OSS, IER, the Cornell University and all the regional entities working in the countries made it possible for the project to take form. Mr. Frédéric Dabire, representative of CILLS and Mr. Lamien Nieyidouba, representative of CORAF spoke of the importance of such an initiative for the region, particularly in a climate change context.

The start of the project was officially announced by H.E. Mr. Modibo Keïta, Minister of Rural Development of Mali, who said was satisfied with the collaborative process that made it possible for the project to come to fruition.

Considering the great importance of such an initiative and reminding the crucial role of rice in food security for the entire West African region, he took the occasion to recall Mali's commitment to support and accompany the project implementation. He also underlined the need to reverse the paradox of rice importation while the region possess the necessary resources to reach rice self-sufficiency, an even to have it exported.

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