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African PhD students receive 2011 Global Rice Science Scholarships

By Africa Rice Centre (WARDA)
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COTONOU, Benin, December 1, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Nine PhD students from Africa have won the 2011 Global Rice Science Scholarship (GRiSS). They represent one-third of the total number of successful GRiSS candidates selected from around the world through a highly competitive process.

GRiSS was launched this year under the CGIAR Research Program “Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP).” The scholarship offers young agricultural scientists the opportunity to be experts in a scientific discipline relating to rice and to have a broader understanding of the global issues that affect rice science for development.

“These young students will be part of the new generation of rice scientists who will strengthen Africa's research capacity,” said Dr. Papa Abdoulaye Seck, Director General, Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice). AfricaRice is one of the architects of GRiSP and is leading its activities in Africa.

Underlining the desperate lack of trained capacity in rice research and development in the continent, Dr. Seck said, “Skills are lacking in all major disciplines relating to rice science, from plant breeding to policy research. This threatens to impede the progress in developing Africa's rice sector.”

AfricaRice has made human resource development one of its priority activities, indispensable for strengthening rice research and development capacities of its 24 member countries.

The Center has initiated an innovative post-MSc program that enables young university graduates from its member countries to gain experience during two years at the Center or in partner institutions.

“Currently, about 60 to 70 postgraduate students from both African and non-African countries are supervised by AfricaRice researchers at any point in time across the continent and we hope to gradually increase this number,” stated Dr. Marco Wopereis, AfricaRice Deputy Director General, Research for Development.

The nine awardees from Africa will conduct their doctoral research under the joint supervision of AfricaRice scientists and their respective universities. Representing diverse agricultural disciplines, their thesis topics cover agronomy, plant pathology, entomology, soil and water science, plant breeding and social sciences.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for sustainable development with the funders of this work. The funders include developing and industrialized country governments, foundations, and international and regional organizations. The work they support is carried out by 15 members of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, in close collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, and the private sector. -