Dr Nteranya Sanginga, IITA’s Director General, was in Burundi for a 3-day visit, 18-20 August, to strengthen collaboration with the Burundi Government and also to meet partners in the Institut des Science Agronomiques du Burundi (ISABU), Ministre de l’Agriculture et de l’Elevage (MINAGRIE), and Agrobiotec Tissue Culture Laboratory. He also visited the Hon. Rufyikiri Gervais, Burundi’s Second Vice President, and the Hon. Odette Kayitesi, Minister for Agriculture.
The visit also provided an opportunity for sharing updates on research for development with the IITA-Burundi staff and discussing management and welfare issues.
While receiving DG Sanginga, Ir Dieudonné Nahimana, ISABU Director General, acknowledged the impacts of IITA’s presence and activities in Burundi. “IITA’s activities align with Burundi’s agricultural strategy and development plans… this is very important for Burundi where more than 80% of the population is involved in agriculture and the economy depends entirely on agriculture for domestic growth,” he said.
He highlighted some IITA-implemented projects which had benefited the people of Burundi. These included the Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Central Africa (CIALCA), Humidtropics program towards sustainable agricultural intensification, training of ISABU researchers, regeneration of genetic materials of cassava and banana, upgrading of ISABU laboratories with standard equipment and materials, biological control of aflatoxins on grain crops, and pest risk management for major food crops (cassava, banana, potato) in collaboration with other CGIAR centers.
At the Agrobiotec tissue culture lab—one of the largest private banana tissue culture labs in Africa, with the capacity to produce more than 5 million plants annually—Dr Sanginga saw that the partnership promoting the concept of tissue culture mother gardens had increased the demand for plantlets and bridged the gap between the farmers and private suppliers. This ensures the distribution of stronger healthy plantlets and true-to-type varieties by disseminating healthy banana planting material from properly managed plots, thereby preventing the spread of pests and diseases and unknown varieties.
DG Sanginga thanked the Burundi Government and said he was impressed by its support to IITA and its activities. “The Government has provided an enabling environment to foster agricultural research and strong partnership with NARS, NGOs, and the private sector. Infrastructure is also available to host CGIAR centers for economic, productive, and sustainable development,” he said.
He urged the Government to continue to advocate for more research centers and projects and to also partner with IITA to reduce youth unemployment through the involvement of young people in agribusiness.