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HOW IITA TRANSFORMED AFRICAN AGRICULTURE - DG

Director General, IITA, Ibadan, Oyo State, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga represented by Dr. Ken Dashiell, Deputy Director General, (Partnership for Delivery), IITA, disclosed this when he delivered the 28th Convocation Lecture of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, at the Caverton Lecture Theatre, Main Campus.

In his lecture titled: Transformation of African Agriculture: The Journey So Far, the renowned Agriculturalist said as the largest international agriculture research centre in tropical Africa, IITA research for development work in the last 50 years has transformed African agriculture.

He disclosed that IITA has developed technologies that include improved and high yielding varieties of major African staples such as banana plantain, cassava, cowpea, maize, soya beans, and yam; good agronomic and farming practice; seed development technologies; innovative applications for better crop, plant health and soil resources management.

According to him, it has contributed to improve overall agricultural productivity in the region, created wealth for farmers and value chain actors, while making significant contributions to national economic development through agriculture.

Dr. Sanginga disclosed that the impacts of IITA’s work on small-holder farmers, including women and youth are evident in the adoption of improved varieties, increased yields and better resistance to pests and diseases. The institute has also developed Aflasafe a natural biocontrol product which reduces aflatoxin contamination in food and grain.

According to him, growing crops bred by IITA and partners has contributed to 80% of the development impact in Sub-Saharan Africa and edible yield increase worth $17 billion improved cassava cultivars increased yields by 40%, contributing to the food security of 14 million rural dwellers.

Designed and focused the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme strategies taken by IITA, according to Dr. Sanginga include developing and elaborating the IITA Refreshed Strategy 2012 - 2020, setting up the partnerships and capacity Development Directorate Review of human resources, openly engaging public and private partner resource mobilization and advocacy unit, demand—driven and holistic approach to research.

The don pointed out that in Nigeria, IITA had been collaborating with the federal government on the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, the national agricultural research system and partners adding that in other African countries, IITA has been encouraging job creation and employment generation from agriculture and raising the productivity of smallholder farmers.

He further said IITA has been promoting the incorporation of local content in local food, such as 20%- 40% cassava flour in bread, adding that substituting half of the wheat flour with cassava flour could save Nigeria $2.1 billion annually in foreign exchange.

In his remark, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman Governing Council, Prof. ‘Femi Odekunle said the lecture is very apt as the present government has been harping on the importance of agriculture to national development.
Prof. Odekunle said knowledge must not be on the shelve but must be translated to service the need of the people and called on the relevant stakeholders to do the needful.

The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Abdullahi Bala, fsssn, in his remark said IITA has impacted directly on food and nutrition all over household in Africa, adding that the University is very much gratified by the presentation.

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