Central Africa

Visiting USAID and AGRA teams praise IITA initiatives and facilities in DRC

Dr.Joseph DeVries, AGRA (2nd from left); with IITA scientists in the greenhouse.

Dr.Joseph DeVries, AGRA (2nd from left); with IITA scientists in the greenhouse.

I the week of 7 September,a two-person team from USAID and AGRA visited IITA–Kalambo station to learn more about the agricultural development activities going on there and to explore areas of collaboration.

The USAID team consisted of Dr Peter Ewell (a consultant) and Mr Augustin Kidima Ngeleka of USAID Kinshasa. The visitors were taken around the station and interacted with key staff and members of the IITA Kalambo Youth Agripreneurs (IKYA). The team visited the processing unit, fabrication unit, exhibition center, greenhouses, and laboratories. They expressed amazement at what they saw of the facilities and ongoing work at the site. In the laboratories, the team asked many questions on rhizobia strain tests, the supply of inoculants, crop responses to inoculants especially by common beans and soybean, market issues and prices, etc. The visitors were happy with the responses that in his closing remarks, Dr Ewell said, “It has been very inspiring to see such a well-designed and well-managed program. The site is spectacular.”

A few days later, another team from the African Green Revolution for Agriculture (AGRA) visited the Station. The team was composed of Dr Joseph DeVries, AGRA’s Director for Africa’s Seed Systems Program, and Dr Chris Assanzi, AGRA’s Program Officer based in Goma, DRC. Dr DeVries presented on AGRA’s activities in DRC. These included organizing training on crop breeding, funding projects on breeding new crop varieties, developing and strengthening private sector capacity on seed systems, and developing strong partnership networks to improve on the quality and quantity of improved seed accessibility. After visiting the processing unit, AGRA representatives expressed amazement at the diversity of soybean-derived products and the explanations provided by the IKYA members. They said they would advocate and lobby with their financial backers so that soybean could also be included as part of their mandate crops as well. After the visit, the team said they were overwhelmed by the investments made, congratulated those with the vision to build the site, and expressed their willingness to partner with IITA-Kalambo. To share in the IITA-Kalambo vision, the team discussed important areas of collaboration, such as soil sample analysis, demonstration of new technologies to farmers, training of agronomists, and tests of laboratory experiments.

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