AfricaRice agronomist Kazuki Saito wins France’s prestigious Louis Malassis Young Promising Scientist Prize

Dr Kazuki Saito, AfricaRice agronomist from Japan, was awarded the Agropolis Foundation’s Louis Malassis Young Promising Scientist Prize in a ceremony held on 16 March 2015 in Montpellier, France, during the Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture 2015.

Named after Louis Malassis, a renowned French agronomist and agricultural economist who was an ardent supporter of farmers’ cause, the Prize recognizes exemplary and promising contributions of scientists in the field of agriculture and food. It consists of two categories – Distinguished Scientist and Young Promising Scientist.

Accepting the Louis Malassis Prize from Mr Henri Carsalade, Chair of the Board, Agropolis Foundation, Saito said, “I want to thank Agropolis Foundation for this incredible honor. This honor must be shared with all those who have worked with me and supported me. I recognize that our work within the Africa rice agronomy network with national partners has just begun. We have a huge challenge in front of us. I will continue to work hard to make a positive difference in rice production in Africa and in farmers’ livelihoods.”

Saito is the driving force behind the Africa-wide Rice Agronomy Task Force, convened by AfricaRice, which is conducting activities in 21 countries across Africa. Yield-gap survey protocols for the Agronomy Task Force, developed under Saito’s leadership, are currently being used in these countries by national research institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. The results from the surveys are enabling AfricaRice and its partners to identify the opportunities available to introduce technologies to close yield gaps.

Saito is involved in climate risk assessment and R&D priority setting for rice in Africa. He has developed a decision support application (app) for providing African farmers with field-specific management guidelines called ‘RiceAdvice.’ He is also leading a team that has developed the first version of a yield gap map for rice in nine African countries in the ‘Global Yield Gap Atlas’ website.

AfricaRice Deputy Director General Dr Marco Wopereis said “Saito has always shown determination, stamina and leadership in conducting field research in close collaboration with researchers and farmers, leading to tangible results often under difficult circumstances.”

Saito has been actively involved in training researchers, extension workers and students in themes relating to agronomy, including making use of smart phones to facilitate data entry and recognition of symptoms of pests, diseases and nutrient disorders in the field.

“Saito is a worthy recipient of the prestigious Louis Malassis Young Promising Scientist Prize and the AfricaRice family is very proud of his achievements,” AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley said.

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AfricaRice’s new DG takes office, outlines strategic priorities

Describing the 2011-2020 strategic plan of the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) to boost the rice sector in Africa as “evidenced-based and therefore very solid and powerful,” the new Director General of AfricaRice Dr Harold Roy-Macauley urged AfricaRice staff “to be adventurous and ingenious in the way we roll out our rice science.”

He stated that although AfricaRice’s mandate covers the rice sector in Africa, it is global in its approach, because of the growing importance and opportunities of the African rice sector in the global rice market. “Rice is global and it is big business,” said Dr Roy-Macauley. “It is the white gold of the future. We at AfricaRice should consider ourselves fortunate to be in big business already.”

Dr Roy-Macauley made these remarks in his first speech to the AfricaRice staff during the handover ceremony on 12 March 2015 at AfricaRice temporary headquarters in Cotonou, Benin, in which the Interim Director General Dr Adama Traoré handed over office to him.

Dr Roy-Macauley, a Sierra Leonean national, was appointed as the new Director General of AfricaRice at an Extraordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of AfricaRice held on 6 February 2015, in Kampala, Uganda.

After thanking Dr Traoré for ably steering the Center during the interim period, Dr Roy-Macauley outlined his first priorities that include the following:

                 Rendering partnerships more efficient around rice science and sector development

                 Strengthening capacity for rice science and sector development

                 Improving access of small-holders rice producers to markets

                 Reintegrating rice science in the policy agenda of countries

                 Increasing investments in rice science and sector development           

To realize his vision for AfricaRice, he highlighted the need for AfricaRice Management and staff to focus on the implementation of four main pillars: 

1.     “Consolidation, which implies consolidating existing scientific and development activities to respond directly to the weaknesses observed in the rice value chain with special focus on integrating functional Innovation platforms (IPs) in rice value chain in the rice hubs and striking a better balance between varietal development and dissemination and agronomy.

2.     Efficiency/Efficacy, which implies improving the following key systems – monitoring, evaluation and learning; data and information collection and analysis; knowledge management; information and communication; cooperate services and quality delivery; and governance policies, leading to increased credibility of AfricaRice, the interest of development partners including the private sector and their investments and the sustainable funding of AfricaRice’s activities.

3.     Punctuality, which implies anticipating consequences (proactivity and rapidity), having great consideration of our clients, inspiring confidence in staff, and being polite, which will lead to improved client relationship and the reputation of AfricaRice Management.

4.     Excellence, which implies being very progressive, having a sense of responsibility and a spirit of openness, and recognizing diversity, merits and talents, which will lead to improved work environment.”

Listen to AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley’s maiden address.



Esther Leah Achandi received the Young Rice Scientist Award

Esther Leah Achandi received the Young Rice Scientist Award at the International Rice Congress held in Thailand, Bangkok in November 2014, for her research on  “Market participation by small holder rice farmers in Tanzania: A double hurdle analysis”.


Gaudiose Mujawamariya received the Young Rice Scientist Award

Gaudiose Mujawamariya received the Young Rice Scientist Award at the International Rice Congress held in Thailand, Bangkok in November 2014, for her research on “Demystification of consumer preferences for rice in urban areas of Dar es Salaam”. 

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