Inland Valley Consortium, WARDA - The Africa Rice Center
Kiepe, P. 2006. Integrating aquaculture into agroecosystems in West Africa: the roles of WARDA -The Africa Rice Center and the Inland Valley Consortium. In M. Halwart & A.A. van Dam, eds. Integrated irrigation and aquaculture in West Africa: concepts, practices and potential, pp. 159–160. Rome, FAO. 181 pp.
WARDA - The Africa Rice Center is an international research center working on food security in Africa through collaborative research on rice farming systems. Among the networks hosted by WARDA is the Inland Valley Consortium (IVC) which aims at developing suitable technologies and knowledge bases for integrated agricultural land use management and operational support systems for sustainable use of inland valleys in Africa. Integration of aquaculture into rice-based farming systems in Africa fits into the strategies of WARDA and the IVC's which makes them valuable partners for potential integrated irrigation-aquaculture initiatives.
Introduction: WARDA and the IVC
WARDA - The Africa Rice Center is one of the 16 international agricultural research centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). However, WARDA is also an autonomous intergovernmental research association of African member states, a fact that distinguishes WARDA from her sister organizations.
WARDA’s mission is to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security in Africa, through research and development activities and partnerships aimed to increase the productivity, efficiency and profitability of the rice sector in ways that ensure the sustainability of the farming environment.
The modus operandi of WARDA is partnership at all levels. WARDA’s research and development activities are conducted in collaboration with various stakeholders - primarily the national agricultural research systems (NARS), academic institutions, advanced research institutions, farmers’organizations, non-governmental organizations and donors -for the benefit of African farmers, mostly small-scale producers, as well as the millions of African families for whom rice means food.
WARDA hosts three major networks: first, the just mentioned African Rice Initiative(ARI), secondly, the Regional Rice Research and Development Network for West and Central Africa (ROCARIZ), and last but not least the co-organizer of this workshop: The Inland Valley Consortium (IVC).
WARDA has its headquarters in Côte d’Ivoire and regional research stations at St-Louis in Senegal, at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria, and at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) research station at Samanko, just outside Bamako.
Inland Valley Consortium (IVC)
The Inland Valley Consortium (IVC) was established in 1993 to respond to social and environmental challenges in West Africa, related to poverty and food security on the one hand and degradation of the natural resource base on the other. Membership grew gradually to a total of 10 West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo). Eight international research and development institutions are involved in IVC: Conference of Agricultural Research Directors in West and Central Africa (CORAF); Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), France; United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA); International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI); International Water Management Institute (IWMI); The Africa Rice Center (WARDA) and Wageningen University and Research Center (WUR), the Netherlands. The Consortium is one of the seven ecoregional programs of the CGIA Rand is convened by WARDA.The second phase of the Consortium started in 2000.
The overall goal of the Inland Valley Consortium is to develop, in concerted action and using an agro-ecological approach, suitable technologies and knowledge bases for integrated agricultural land use management and operational support systems for intensified but sustainable use of inland valleys in Africa, through a combined effort of national and international agricultural institutions, development agencies and other stakeholders.
During Phase I of the IVC (1994–1999) extensive biophysical and socio-economic characterisation work was done in all countries and at 18 key sites. Research objectives in Phase II (2000–2004) focus on four main themes:
WARDA and IVC's roles in developing integrated irrigation-aquaculture (IIA) systems
The topic of this workshop ties well with WARDA’s mission statement of alleviating poverty through increasing food security and productivity. Incorporating aquaculture into rice-based systems increases productivity as well as output diversity, and also contributes to income generation. The workshop also connects very well to WARDA’s modus operandi. WARDA works through partnerships, and especially through its networks. The FAO has been a member of IVC since 1997. The fact that WARDA was established as a regional, inter-governmental association meant that partnership, collaboration and capacity building were, from the beginning, at center stage. The basic proposition was, and remains, that faced with a set of common problems, and with constrained human and financial resources, significant benefits can be derived from effective regional collaboration.
These benefits take several forms. In terms of the researchers themselves, the collaborative model can help break the intellectual and professional isolation that often comes with being the only rice breeder, agronomist, irrigation or aquaculture specialist at a particular research station or in a national program. Being a member of a functional research network is an important factor in motivating researchers to analyze, write-up and present their work to their peers. For the national research systems, regional collaboration provides access to ideas, funding opportunities, research outputs and lessons that might otherwise remain out of reach.
The main research effort in Phase I of IVC was targeted on agro-ecological characterization. A common multi-scale characterization methodology has been developed and adopted by the IVC partners to conduct reconnaissance, semi-detailed and detailed characterization studies. All IVC member countries have completed the agro-ecological characterization.
Over 100 research activities has been funded by the Consortium through small research grants (US$ 3000 to 25000 per activity). These small projects not only covered the full range of IVC's research themes, but also a number of more-specific studies were implemented, such as the testing of DIARPA (a rapid diagnostic appraisal system for water management), the role of female farmers in inland valley cultivation, costs of water management systems, evaluation of existing water management systems, indigenous knowledge on soil conservation, functions of natural vegetation in inland valleys, etc.
All countries have completed national state-of-the-art studies on inland valley research and development. The main goal of these studies is the inventory of technologies available at the national level. An overall synthesis is being compiled, in the form of a catalogue of technologies from which partners may choose the appropriate technologies for testing in the key sites.
IVC's characterization studies conducted so far have considerably increased the understanding of the characteristics and dynamics of inland valley agro-ecosystems. Also, IVC activities in member countries have contributed towards increased awareness at the scientific and policy level about the agricultural potentials of inland valley agro-ecosystems.