The Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Dr Nteranya Sanginga has underscored the need for youth engagement in agribusiness. This was part of his presentation at the 2013 Annual Lecture at the College of Agriculture, Osun State University (UNIOSUN).
Making reference to the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA), Dr Sanginga said the group was proof of the latent potential in the youth being exploited for agricultural benefits.
Dr Sanginga’s topic: “The Need of a Brown Revolution in Africa and Engagement of the Youth in Science-driven Agribusiness” drew insights into the factors constraining agriculture and proffered a road map to the present challenge.
“What the continent (Africa) needs is not a “Green Revolution” perse but a “Brown Revolution”, he added, stressing that land intensification, rather than “extensification” holds the key to Africa’s agricultural prosperity in the 21st Century. He explained that to close the current yield gap, there needed to be integrated soil fertility management which aims at optimizing fertilizer and organic resource-use efficiency and crop productivity.
Dr Sanginga further said that research should be used as a tool to tackle poverty and other socioeconomic problems. “Research is not an end in itself; rather it should be embarked upon for the sake of development,” he said. The IITA Director General also highlighted the vast disconnect between the gains from research and the realities on farmers’ fields. He said this has brought to the spotlight the need for strategic alliances to ensure proper research delivery.
Prior to the lecture, there was a drama presentation by the UNIOSUN Ejigbo students. Making up the team from IITA were Dr Gbassey Tarawali, Head of the Cassava Value-chain Unit; Mr Godwin Atser, IITA Communications Officer (West & Central Africa); and Ms Victoria Lawal. Also in attendance were the Pro-Chancellor of Osun State University, Prof G.A. Olawoyin; the Vice Chancellor, Prof A.B. Okesina; other members of staff of the university; and other invited guests.