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High Level Regional Meeting 30 – 31 May 2016 Rasht, Iran

High Level Regional Meeting for Cooperation on Rice R&D in Central-West Asia

High Level Regional Meeting for Cooperation on Rice R&D in Central-West Asia held successfully  on 29-31 May, 2016, Rasht, Iran, attended by senior officials of Ministries of Agriculture, Technical Management Committee (TMC) members of CWARice, and Ambassadors of CWA countries including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan, National and Provincial Authorities, Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture of I. R. Iran, Guilan Governorship, Guilan Management and Planning Organization, Agricultural Research Institutes and Universities of I. R. Iran.

CWARice is committed to promote and support interdependence, reduce barriers, and collectively change perspectives of all partners: research workers and administrators, rice industrialists, policymakers, NGOs (active rice R&D private companies) and donors both inside and outside the region, as they become full partners in the regional rice community. In fact, partnerships will be the main drivers for reaching CWARice’ s vision of success and regional center will provide a new umbrella for strengthening and expanding partnerships between 10 CWA countries.

Recommendations of CWARice on Rice R&D for CWA region:

CWA countries must enact policy, programs and funds to smooth rice price volatility and manage the impacts of natural resource degradation and climate change.

Innovative public R&D is needed to achieve high-yielding, climate-smart rice varieties and lower-cost, sustainable good agricultural practices.

Scale is attained through widespread knowledge extension systems enabled by public-private partnerships.

Safety nets, such as crop insurance and other social protection measures, are needed to enable subsistence rice farmers to compete and thrive.

CWA countries must continue to reduce restrictions on trade, consider a futures market, and share much more rice production and market data.

Objectives of meeting

Present and further assess the current regional rice situation and offer possible joint collaboration.

Present the achievements of CWARice. Evaluate the progress of our cooperation and the plans needed for the center to move forward.

Further improve the profile and public awareness of the CWARice and its mission.

Assess current and future situation of rice as a strategic crop in Central and West Asia and offer joint programs.

Investigate development of cooperative programs related to future concerned measures in CWA.

Promote the level of planning for training, research and development activities to improve rice production, breeding and industry in CWA.

Provide new approaches for cooperation among CWARice and member corner. 

The meeting was officially opened by welcoming address of Dr. Najafi, Governor of Guilan to respected invitees including Ambassadors and senior officials of Ministries of Agriculture of Central-West Asian countries, Technical Management Committee (TMC) members of CWARice, Deputy Minister of agriculture of I.R. of Iran, heads of agricultural research institutes of Iran and other local authorities and researchers at Al-ghadir hall of Guilan Governourship on 30 May 2016.

Dr. Najafi talked about rice cultivation and its  importance as a staple crop in Guilan province. While expressing his satisfaction from CWARice establishment in Rasht and inauguration of its new facilities, he reaffirmed the full support of regional center according to hosting it permanently in Guilan and also its mission and vision in partnership, cooperation and coordination with other member countries and international organizations which would lead to improve rice production in CWA region.

Then, a short film of "the formation and establishment process of rice regional center from past to present" was exhibited.

Dr. Zand, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Iran & D.G., Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), welcomed all participants and thanked for holding this regional summit with the aim of partnership and cooperation between CWA member countries to develop rice science and technology as the most staple crop in region to ensure food security.

His speech was centered on the following topics:

The importance of agriculture in the Islamic Republic of Iran to achieving food security, social equality and poverty reduction

Structural transformation of the agricultural sector and improve sustainable agricultural production ever since the Islamic Revolution

Cooperation of Iran and AREEO with CWARice and CWA countries regarding the utilization of agricultural colleges, 23 research institutes and agriculture extension services of Iran in line with GRiSP framework to the benefit of CWA region. 

Providing required support to facilitate and accelerate the attainment of the objectives of CWARice in CWA .

In the end, he expressed hope that this center would be a regional hub for exchange of knowledge and technology stressing the necessity of participation and active involvement of all Member countries.

Mr. Shaban Nejad, D.G., Jihad-e-Agriculture Organization of Guilan gave a speech on agricultural situation of Guilan province, especially rice production, as well as the importance of taking advantage of such valuable opportunity to host the regional center in Rasht in favor of all CWA countries.

In the following, honorable Minister of Agriculture of Iran’s text message and also Dr. V. Bruce J. Tolentino’s message, Deputy Director-General, IRRI, to the High Level Regional Meeting for Cooperation on Rice R&D was read. 

In the next section, short film entitled "bee and rice" about environmental influences on rice production and environmental protection was exhibited.

Mr. Hassan Shahin, ECO Representative, addressed a lecture on "ECO’s role in food security for Central-West Asia". He pointed out ECO’s cooperation with this center from its establishment and CWARice’s great role as an advisory council in CWA region especially for ECO members. He also affirmed on continuous partnership of ECO with CWARice.

Then, Dr. Shahdi, head of CWARice & IRRI Iran office, explained about rice status of Central-West Asian countries and submitted a brief report on accomplishments of CWARice since its establishment and upcoming plans. He also stated the main aims of holding this summit and emphasized at new approach of regional center especially through proposed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) which was approved by TMC members at 4th TMC meeting on 29 May 2016. According to Dr. Shahdi, CWARice is entering to new phase of cooperation with member countries regarding their greater involvement at CWARice activities to the interest of CWA countries.