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IRRI-Africa: Igniting stronger partnerships in Burundi

Visit to the Burundi Minister of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock, Prof. Sanctus Niragira (second from the right)

BURUNDI, AFRICA, 13-16 September, 2023 — IRRI Deputy Director General for Strategy, Engagement & Impact (DDG-SEI), Joanna Kane-Potaka and Regional Director for IRRI-Africa, Dr. Abdelbagi M. Ismail visited the IRRI-Burundi offices and met with important stakeholders in the country to hear and understand partners’ plans, priorities, and opportunities inquired on how IRRI can help provide support.
In the series of meetings, Kane-Potaka underlined three imperatives that govern IRRI as a whole, which included farmer prosperity, environmental protection, and nutritious rice, which strongly align with the government’s priorities toward helping African farmers and consumers achieve food self-sufficiency.

“Though it is true that IRRI-Burundi has served as a trampoline for progress throughout Africa, we still need to go further as there are other industries that are emerging here such as mechanization,” Kane-Potaka said.

Specific areas for collaboration that were identified included; rainfed and high-yielding rice varieties, capacity building, well-equipped laboratories, fertilizer policy, rice exportation, water management in rice fields, developing market systems, management of agricultural inputs including seeds and fertilizers, rotation systems and mechanization.

Mr. Ferdinand Bashikako, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation, recognized IRRI for the positive impact of its work on the whole Burundian population. “Without food, there is no life. As food security is the foundation of everything, IRRI is an institution that came and led a revolution in agriculture and brought significant added value in this sector. The Government of Burundi, focusing on the agricultural sector as a basis for sustainable development, looks forward to working more closely with IRRI,” Bashikako, said. Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi (ISABU) Director General, Dr. Alfred Niyokwishimira, noted: “As we have IRRI here, we will have the best yields ever”.

Visit to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation, Mr Ferdinand Bashikako (3rd from the right)

University of Burundi Rectory, Dr Audace Manirambona, sought stronger collaborations with IRRI and expressed specific interest in involving more of their students and researchers in the delivery of IRRI’s work in the country.

Meeting Students from the University of Burundi, under training in the IRRI-Burundi laboratory

Some of IRRI's main contributions to Burundi National Agricultural Research and Extension Services (NARES) and to the Government, in general, include new and improved rice varieties and cultivation throughout the country, crucial breeding and laboratory facilities provided by IRRI, and training of NARES students and staff from the Ministry of the Environment, Agriculture and Livestock (Ministère de l’Environnement, de l’Agriculture) (Burundi) (MINEAGRIE). Prof. Sanctus Niragira, Minister of Environment, Agriculture, and Livestock echoed the commitment of the Burundian government to supporting IRRI “by providing facilities and legally recognized privileges whenever necessary”.

IRRI acknowledged the support and commitment from the Burundi Government as exemplified by the Host Country Agreement granted to the IRRI-Burundi office and for the selection of IRRI as the implementing partner for the rice value chain component of key government projects.