AfricaRice Council of Ministers appoints new Director General

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Dr Baboucarr Manneh, a Gambian national, was appointed as Director General of the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) by the Council of Ministers of AfricaRice at its Extraordinary Session held on 21 February 2023. His appointment becomes effective 1 April 2023. Dr. Manneh will also take on the role of CGIAR Regional Director, West and Central Africa.

In keeping with the AfricaRice Constitution, the Director General appointment was made following the selection of Dr Manneh by the Center’s Board of Trustees from an impressive list of African candidates through a rigorous recruitment process. AfricaRice is a CGIAR Research Center as well as an intergovernmental association of 28 African member countries.

“The AfricaRice Board of Trustees is happy to have selected Dr Manneh, who brings with him an in-depth knowledge of AfricaRice, strong abilities as a researcher and manager dedicated to scientific excellence, and regional and international partnerships to bear on AfricaRice’s mandate of ensuring that appropriate technologies are deployed towards Africa’s drive for rice self-sufficiency,” said Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze, AfricaRice Board Chair.

Thanking the Council of Ministers and the Board, Dr Manneh said, “I am deeply honored and privileged to be given this opportunity to serve as the Director General of AfricaRice and CGIAR Regional Director for West and Central Africa. I am committed to supporting AfricaRice member countries transform their rice-based food systems for attaining rice self-sufficiency as well as food and nutrition security. We will seek to develop, mobilize and deploy state-of-the-art science towards this goal.”

Dr Manneh brings to the roles nearly three decades of experience in agricultural research and development, including program management and leadership. He is currently leading the AfricaRice Genetic Diversity and Improvement Program and is the AfricaRice Regional Representative for the Sahel, based in St Louis, Senegal, with administrative oversight over seven West African countries. He is also CGIAR Country Convener for Senegal.

Thanks to his expertise in crop breeding and seed systems, Dr Manneh has successfully coordinated the Africa-wide Rice Breeding Task Force involving breeders from over 30 African countries, leading to the release of over 80 climate-resilient rice varieties to help vulnerable farmers cope with climate change.

Dr Manneh has cultivated strong partnerships with national and international organizations in Africa and Asia and has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities for agricultural research and development, especially in West and Central Africa. He will leverage this continental knowledge and experience in his new role as CGIAR Regional Director, West and Central Africa, working with countries to establish and articulate demand and, from there, develop the research, innovation and delivery partnerships needed to deliver impact.

Dr Claudia Sadoff, Executive Managing Director, CGIAR, said: “Dr Manneh is a proven leader in rice food systems development and already a key member of the AfricaRice team that has achieved pan-African impact in poverty reduction and food and nutrition security. I am delighted to welcome his appointment to the CGIAR leadership team where he can continue to drive a transformational agenda within in a global food, land, and water systems approach.”

Prior to joining AfricaRice, he served as the Director of Research for the Gambia National Agricultural Research Institute. Dr Manneh’s research work is widely published in international peer-reviewed academic journals. He obtained his PhD degree in Plant Breeding and Crop Physiology in 2004 and an MSc in Crop Science with specialization in Crop Breeding in 1998, from Wageningen University, Netherlands. He is fluent in both English and French.

The Council of Ministers, the National Experts Committee and the Board thanked the outgoing AfricaRice Director General Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, for ably steering AfricaRice during a most challenging period.

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