DG meets staff of IITA Kalambo, Bukavu, DR Congo


IITA DG and the Director for Central Africa addressing the staff at IITA Kalambo station
IITA DG and the Director for Central Africa addressing the staff at IITA Kalambo station

During his official tour in DR Congo, the IITA Director General, Nteranya Sanginga, met with all the staff and students of the Kalambo Station on 9 January 2014.  He was accompanied by Bernard Vanlauwe, the Director for the Central African Hub; Jacqueline Musiimenta, the Finance Officer; and Linda Wangila, the Hub Administration Assistant based in Nairobi, and Quadrer Waheed and Oyedeji Musendeeq from Ibadan. 

Giving a brief history of the station, the DG said the idea for the station was conceived 10 years ago while he was a Director at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). He was happy and excited that the Station would be now officially commissioned under his leadership in 2014.

He said the event would attract Heads of State in the region including the IITA Goodwill Ambassador for Africa, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, top government functionaries, and the donor community. He therefore urged all staff to give their best and ensure the success of the event.

He further encouraged both staff and students to take advantage of opportunities available at the IITA Capacity Development Unit to advance their professional careers and academic interests.

Also addressing the staff and students, Vanlauwe added that the event would be a golden opportunity to explain to the host country, DR Congo and Africa in general on how IITA could contribute to efforts towards reducing poverty and food and nutritional insecurity in the region. He said during the event, both scientists and students would be given the opportunity to present their work and future plans.

Governor of South Kivu, DRC, thanks IITA for its development efforts in the country


The Governor of South Kivu during the dinner he hosted in honor of IITA DG at his residence
The Governor of South Kivu during the dinner he hosted in honor of IITA DG at his residence

His Excellency, Governor Marcelin Chishambo Ruhoya of South Kivu in DR Congo, has praised IITA’s efforts to support development in his region and country and assured the Institute of his government’s support of its activities. He said he was especially happy with the decision to set up a new science building in the province which is scheduled to be launched in June 2014.

IITA is a friend, he said, and the repairing of the road to the Station was a clear demonstration of his government’s desire to collaborate with the Institute.

The Governor was speaking at a dinner he hosted at his residence on 10 January 2014 for the IITA DG who was in the country on an official visit. It was attended by the Provincial Ministers of Agriculture, Health, and Budget, other aides to the Governor, and others.

On his part, the IITA DG thanked the Governor for granting him an audience earlier in the day and for his continued assistance and generous support to the IITA Station.  He recalled how the two of them had nurtured the idea of establishing a science laboratory in Kalambo (to be known as “Science for Peace” building) in 2004 while the DG was the Director of International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Governor was a State Advisor. 

The DG further commended the Governor for facilitating the execution of the project and for supporting the expansion of the station and construction of a Science Building. The DG also seized the opportunity to inform the aides of the governor of the plans to commission the IITA Kalambo Science Building on 5 June 2014. 

He said that the launch would attract Heads of States and top government functionaries and representatives of donor agencies and international organizations in the region and that the IITA Ambassador for Africa, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo would attend. 

He added that the Station will have cassava processing facilities so that farmers will have the opportunity to learn how to derive more benefits from cassava production.

“Apart from ugali, a popular cassava food in the region, there are more than 27 food products from cassava, well known for their nutritional value and marketability”, he said.  

DG Sanginga was accompanied to the dinner by Chris Okafor the Officer in Charge of IITA Kalambo and Musendeeq Oyedeji, one of the IITA engineers working at the site.

Giant strides in IITA plantain breeding for West Africa


Amah during her contract review seminar
Amah during her contract review seminar

IITA has made significant progress in its plantain research in West Africa with the generation of seedlings from crosses with in vitro induced tetraploids from diploids―a first for the Institute.

The IITA Regional Banana Breeding Manager, Delphine Amah, who supervised execution of the crosses in IITA-Ibadan, said the crosses were vital for plantain improvement in West Africa in the years ahead.

Delivering her contract review seminar titled: Support to Banana and Plantain Breeding―Updates on West Africa, Amah said the Banana Unit had recorded giant strides in the recent years.

For instance, as part of a revised pre-breeding strategy to produce improved parents while shortening the breeding cycle for plantain, the unit was now producing tetraploids which have four sets of chromosomes from diploids (which have two) using optimized in vitro doubling techniques.

In addition, tissue culture techniques have been employed to generate seedlings from crosses through embryo culture and mass propagation of plants for clonal evaluation.

The unit is also promoting the use of macropropagation and field propagation techniques for the production of clean planting material and good agronomy practices.

So far, Amah and her team have produced and distributed thousands of Agbagba plantain plantlets to the IITA farm unit and Youth Agripreneur project for propagation and distribution.

Furthermore, they have established pollination blocks with female fertile plantain landraces and Black Sigatoka resistant tetraploid plantain hybrids for accelerated breeding.

The team has established recently imported Musa acuminata ssp. banksii accessions for evaluation and use as parents in crosses to breed for plantains with high provitamin A content.

They have also established a propagation scheme for the production of plantlets for pollination blocks and planned trials to enable registration of new IITA hybrids.

All these activities are aimed at rejuvenating plantain breeding in IITA for efficient delivery of improved varieties to farmers, she said.

Milestones from the field


Dr Gbassey Tarawali (middle) with IYA on a soybean field
Dr Gbassey Tarawali (middle) with IYA on a soybean field

The IYA cultivated 4 ha of cassava, 4 ha of maize, 3 ha of soybean and 2 ha of plantain, all within IITA campus in 2013.

The group also extended its farm activities outside IITA campus to Ogbomosho where they cultivated 21 ha of cassava and 16 ha of maize.

In total, the group cultivated 50 ha. 

In addition, they multiplied 2000 suckers of plantain/banana using the macro propagation chamber.

The group plans to increase the number of hectares in 2014, leveraging on the gains and experience gained in 2013. Crops to receive attention will include cassava, maize, soybean, plantain/banana, and other staples.

Averting a “time bomb” – The IITA Example


IYA on their way to the field
IYA on their way to the field

“They are an opportunity if we convert their energies (the youth) to agricultural development but they could be a ‘time bomb’ if we fail to do so,” President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dr Kanayo Nwanze.

The above words were expressed by the IFAD President Dr Nwanze during his speech in August 2012 when he visited the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan Nigeria. Among other things he stressed the need to increase investments in agricultural research for development stating that it would bring about transformation and help address the rising wave of youth unemployment and poverty.

The IFAD President’s word were so dear to the heart of the IITA Director General, Dr  Nteranya Sanginga that the following month (September 2012) he launched the IITA Youth Agripreneur Program with the focus on promoting agriculture among youth, training them and exposing them to the agricultural value chain.

It was thus with excitement that on 19 September 2013, the Young Professionals in Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD) Nigeria team met to interact with these youths who have enjoyed being part of the IITA Youth Agripreneur Program  as they marked their one year anniversary and also tell them about the YPARD network.


IITA Youth Agripreneur Program

The IITA Youth Agripreneur Program kicked off in September 2012 with serving Corp members at the Institute. There are presently 11 men and 12 women under this program. The program focuses on hands-on training on plantain/banana sucker production, seed multiplication both certified and foundation, and cassava stem and root production. In the past year, the participants have also worked on the farm, visited other farms, and had the opportunity to be trained by various experts in the field of agriculture through workshops and on-farm demonstrations.                                                    

A unique feature of this program is that these youth have graduated from various non-agricultural fields. For example, some are graduates of History, Quantity Survey, and Economics to mention a few. The participants were provided with a befitting office, farm equipment, farm overalls and boots, farm land, and a project vehicle.


YPARD Meeting

The YPARD Nigeria Team had a lovely time with the participants. The meeting which was facilitated by the IITA Corporate Communications Officer for West and Central Africa, Godwin Atser kicked off with a brief introduction about the IITA Youth Agripreneur Program by its Coordinator Akinyele Bankole Odunayo (a youth himself). After which Jacqueline Opara from the YPARD Nigeria Team gave a presentation on the activities of the YPARD Network and how they can take advantage of the network. Thereafter, the YPARD Nigeria Country Representative, Olawale Ojo gave a presentation on how youth can use social media to promote and contribute to agriculture and food security. He admonished that these youth use social media to share their experiences and stories during the program stressing that it would serve as a motivation for other young people to follow suit in considering farming and other agriculture endeavours. Group photos and interviews with the participants followed as a rap up of the day’s activities.


Averting a “Time Bomb”

IITA has indeed started contributing to averting a time bomb that would occur if youth are not invested in. And it is an example for all quarters to follow in empowering youth to take up various roles along the agriculture value chain.

We want to appreciate Godwin Atser, who was enthusiastic about these young people and allowed us meet with them. Appreciation also goes to the YPARD Global and Africa offices for their support. I also want to thank Ajilore Oluwabunmi, Opara Jackie, and Jeremiah Majid all of YPARD Nigeria who made out time to meet with these youths. Finally, IITA and IITA Youth Agripreneurs who are setting a fine example for stakeholders and youth to follow.                     

This piece is written by Mr Olawale Ojo, Country Representative for YPARD in Nigeria…http://ypard.net/2013-october-11/averting-time-bomb-iita-example

IYA at Canadian High Commission-organized roundtable


IYA and other participants with Canadian High Commission staff during the round table
IYA and other participants with Canadian High Commission staff during the round table

Members of the IYA participated in a roundtable discussion organized by the Canadian High Commission in Nigeria on 25 November 2013.

Eight young female entrepreneurs were present for the roundtable discussion which was focused on young female entrepreneurship. IYA member Obafemi Victoria gave an overview of IYA’s operations and talked about the challenges young women face in getting involved in agribusiness. The roundtable presented the opportunity for other participants to also share their experiences.

Prior to attending the roundtable, members of the IYA received Mr Marcello Di Franco, the Canadian Deputy High Commissioner and Dr Paulyn Appah, Senior Process Development Consultant in IITA Ibadan.

 After presentations by the IYA, Mr Di Franco commended the youngsters for their efforts.

”Keep up the good work and surround yourself with people with a lot of ideas,” he said.

Present at the roundtable were Ms Sylvia Koleva and Trade Commissioner, Ms Sarah Branco; Director General Africa Bureau, Ms Patricia Malikail; High Commissioner Perry J. Calderwood; and Senior Advisor in Africa, Sean Sunderland.

IYA members give seminar on opportunities in agriculture


IYA with the chairman of Ibarapa Local Government, Mr Olaosegba
IYA with the chairman of Ibarapa Local Government, Mr Olaosegba

As part of efforts to get more young people engaged in agriculture, members of IYA went for an outreach in Ibarapa Local Government Area and gave a seminar presentation to the youth in the community on the benefits inherent in agriculture.

    The visit to Ibarapa Local Government which is located in Oyo State, southwest Nigeria was held on 30 October 2013.

    The outreach culminated in a partnership agreement, in principle, between the Local Government and the IYA that will see the training of youths in that community on best-bet agricultural practices.

Sixteen representatives from the Ibarapa Local Government attended the meeting.

    The Chairman of the Local Government, Honorable Lanre Olaosegba commended the quality of presentation and lauded the young agripreneurs for their level of knowledge. He noted that despite the fact that most of them do not have an agricultural background they were able to take up agriculture as a form of business and a means of income for themselves.

    The Ibarapa Local Government agreed to pay a visit to the IYA to strengthen the partnership.

IITA Hub Directors may replicate IYA model

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Eastern, Southern and Central Africa Hub Directors with members of staff and IYA.
Eastern, Southern and Central Africa Hub Directors with members of staff and IYA.

There are strong indications that IITA Regional Directors may replicate the IITA Youth Agripreneur model as part of efforts to engage young people in agriculture and create employment at the hub level.

The desire to replicate a similar program came during separate visits by the directors to the IYA office in Ibadan during the Institute’s R4D week that took place from the 24 to 29 November 2013.

Hub Directors Dr Bernard Vanlauwe of the Central African Hub, Dr David Chikoye of the Southern Hub, and Dr Victor Manyong of the Eastern Hub accompanied by members of staff from their respective regions were impressed with the program.


Dr Marie Yomeni, SARD-SC Cassava Commodity Specialist based in DR Congo said the IITA Bukavu station is already bringing together a group of young people for a similar mission, and would love the IYA to provide backstopping.

2013 Open Day: Agripreneurs woo youngsters to agriculture


DG Sanginga (right) and other visitors make inquiry from IYA booth on Open Day
DG Sanginga (right) and other visitors make inquiry from IYA booth on Open Day

Members of the IITA Youth Agripreneurs participated in the 2013 Open Day, exhibiting products from their farms and also distributing literature to visitors about their activities. The event which was held on 16 November provided an opportunity for the agripreneurs to talk to people about the importance of agriculture as a profession. The agripreneurs shed light on their activities and clarified questions raised by visitors.

The Open Day which attracted friends and families of staff commenced with a tree planting activity followed by exhibitions in which each unit showcased their products at the Conference Center.

Oyo State to partner with IITA on youth development


Governor Ajimobi (Second from left) with his entourage and IITA management team during a visit to the office of IYA.
Governor Ajimobi (Second from left) with his entourage and IITA management team during a visit to the office of IYA.

The Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi has pledged his administration’s willingness to work with IITA towards addressing youth unemployment and food insecurity.

The Governor has also made a commitment to support the construction of a youth training center in IITA. This came at the request of the Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, during the Governor’s visit to IITA on 20 November 2013 in which he also commissioned new facilities at the headquarters of IITA in Ibadan and also visited the office of the IYA.

Governor Ajimobi cited striking figures that highlighted the need and benefits of an agribusiness center as a means of training the youth in Oyo State.

“I congratulate and also commend the IITA Youth Agripreneurs and the management of IITA for paying attention to the high rate unemployment in Oyo State.”

Governor Ajimobi also cited how his own administration’s work complements that of IITA.

Earlier, members of the IYA made presentations describing the nature of their project. The group explained that they aim to unlock the potential of agriculture thereby attracting and engaging young men and women in agribusiness to create decent employment opportunities comparable to those in other sectors.

After the presentation, the Governor was accompanied to the seed processing center by the youth where he saw the seed processing machine in operation and had a view of produce from the fields cultivated by the IYA.