IITA has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Catholic Archdiocese of Bukavu in the South Kivu Province of the DR Congo. The MoU defines the framework for the cooperation between the Catholic Church and IITA.
The agreement, which is a marked departure from the usual partnership with nongovernment organizations and government agencies, enables the two parties to pursue agricultural research for development to improve livelihoods of the populace while sustaining the integrity of the natural resource base. The specific areas of cooperation identified include: food crops research and production; livestock and fishery research and production; vegetable production; agro-processing and marketing; training of farmers; youth leadership and entrepreneurship in agriculture; and collaboration in sponsoring business incubation programs.
Under the agreement, the Church has released over 3 hectares of farmland to IITA that will be used as a research farm as well as several hectares for the IITA-Kalambo Youth Agripreneuer (IKYA) for crop and vegetable production at its Agricultural Center in Murhesa. The Center has been renovated to create rooms for offices and guest rooms for IKYA members who will be engaged in agro-processing activities using underutilized machines and equipment that are at the Center.
The Catholic Church following in South Kivu represents about 51% of the population. Through this initiative, IITA hopes to reach thousands of farmers in South Kivu Province.
Commenting on this development, the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese, Monsignor Francois-Xavier Maroy Rusengo, lauded DG Nteranya Sanginga for reaching out to the Church. He said that he would ensure that Catholic faithfuls in the province take advantage of this unique opportunity.