Obasanjo, Ajimobi Inaugurate Projects At IITA

Director-General, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Dr Nteranya Sanginga; former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, during the unveiling of the institute’s circular road named after the governor, at IITA, Ibadan.. Photo: Governor’s Office 

 

Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi over the weekend inaugurated some projects at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

The projects include a 10.5km ring road named after the state governor and an agricultural transformation building dedicated to research and delivery of innovations to farmers across Nigeria.

Governor Ajimobi during the inauguration said the support given to IITA was in realisation of the importance of agriculture to Oyo State, and the contribution of IITA to agricultural development in the state.

“Today Oyo State is the best place to invest and promote agriculture because we have IITA located in the state,” he said.

Obasanjo, at the event, commended Governor Ajimobi for supporting IITA and called for the extension of innovations generated from research stations to farmers.

Also the goodwill ambassador of IITA, the former president said, recommendations in the Policy Framework need to be implemented by the incoming administration.

“Our problem is not policy formulation but implementation,” he said.

He added that there was a gap between research institutions and the ordinary smallholder farmers, “and we need to close that gap to bring about agricultural transformation.”

The construction of the agricultural transformation building commenced in 2017 with a foundation laying ceremony officiated by former Nigerian heads of government, General Yakubu Gowon, and Chief Obasanjo; and the African Development Bank President, Akin Adesina as part of projects initiated to mark the 50th anniversary of IITA.

The building, which was funded by the African Development Bank through a Nigerian project— Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program (ATASP)— comprises 22 offices, 8 large laboratory spaces, a conference room, and a utility facility.

The Director-General of IITA, Nteranya Sanginga, said the rejuvenation of IITA facility in Nigeria was crucial for the institute’s sustained efforts to transform agriculture on the continent.

“We are excited to see a state in Nigeria showing the example by supporting infrastructure in an international agricultural research center. This is not common, and we commend the government and people of Oyo State,” he said.

Dr Sanginga also commended the government of Nigeria and the AfDB for their support towards the construction of the building, adding that it would accelerate the pace of research and accommodate the best/critical human and material resource needed to bring transformation to the agricultural sector.

 

See more photos of the inauguration below…

Osun Govt Partners With IITA To Boost Agriculture

The Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola on Thursday launched a research and training farm institute in his quest to transform agriculture sector in the state.

The Research Institute which is located at Ago Owu, Ayedaade Local Government Area of Osun was accomplished in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in a bid to boost agricultural production.

Launching the institute at Ago-Owu Farm Settlement, Aregbesola attributed the success of the scheme to unflinching support which the state received from the officials of the IITA.

Aregbesola said the step was as a result of his passion to get the state rid of hanger and poverty also said that the state had released 205.5 hectares of land for the take-off of the programme as part of efforts to advance agriculture in the state.

He described the institute as a “citadel of knowledge in agriculture” with establishment and challenges confronting farming and farmers would be a thing of the past.

He said the institution has the capacity to train, retrain and conduct various researches that would not only increase farmers’ yields but also expose them to modern agriculture practices.

Aregbesola said the idea was nurtured in a bid to support the existing farmers and encourage young ones into farming, saying with the scheme, a new era has begun in the agriculture sector in the state.

According to Aregbesola “the scheme was part of my administration’s six-point integral action plan to increase on the agricultural produce, improve the welfare of farmers and turn Osun to food basket of the southwest Nigeria.

According to him, the idea behind the establishment of the institute is to advance research in agriculture sector in line with the state’s commitment to agribusiness and commercialisation.

“We must thank the IITA for the partnership we have because with the establishment of this training institute, our partnership is not just a memorandum on paper but rather a memorandum actualised.

“IITA has been an open partner with Osun government and the partnership was formalised in 2015 after a Memorandum of Understanding was mutually signed to support agriculture sector in the state.

“This MoU has been actualised with the research and training institute set up to advance research in agriculture, encourage participation in farming and as well improve on the agricultural productivity in the state.

“This initiative aimed at improving on the agricultural agenda of the state, getting youths attracted to farming, exposing farmers to modern and mechanised farming techniques and as well increase agricultural productivity”, he added.

On why the state decided to partner IITA, Aregbesola said the decision was taken having realised the agricultural poor yielding culture in the state.

According to him, Osun is the highest producer of cassava in Nigeria but even as that, the state produces just 16 metric tons per hectare which is far from expectation.

He added, “We partner this international institute to deepen our commitment to massive food production in the state and ensure that the farmers’ yields are improved geometrically.

“For instance, Osun is known to be the highest producer of cassava, but with this feat, our production is poor while the yield per hectare is between 15/16 metric ton per hectare.

“This is widely far from reality while compare with what those who have advanced on the production of cassava have per hectare, and it is for this reason that reached a compromise with IITA to support our farmers for greater productivity.

“As I am speaking now, what we produce as far as cassava production is concerned has increased tremendously as it has increased from 16 metric tons per hectare to 40 metric tons per hectare.

“It is our belief that with this partnership, Osun farmers most especially the existing ones would begin to experience a new life in the agriculture sector while youth would also be encouraged to farming.

“With this partnership, no farmer would suffer anything as far as farming is concerned because this initiative would go a long way to support all there needs and bring a difference into the system.

Earlier, the Deputy Director General, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Professor Michael Abberton, said IITA partnered Osun government having realised the keen interest of the state to revamp agriculture sector.

He described the state’s commitment to agriculture revolution as remarkable, a step he said would be advanced by the IITA to ensure the actualisation of the state dreams in the agriculture sector.

Prof. Abberton who spoke on behalf of IITA, said the partnership was important as it reflects the role the farm will play not only in terms of research addressing the needs of smallholder farmers but also in terms of training and capacity building.

He said the MoU signed between the state of Osun and IITA in 2015 was the consolidation of long tradition of formal partnerships with various stakeholders around the state which according to him represents IITAs commitment to build on this tradition and to further enhance the transfer and adoption of IITA research to the benefit of the farmers in the state.

“The IITA Youth Agripreneurs will be making good use of this farm in the development of their activities.

“IITA has had a long tradition of training, transferring technology to farmers in the State of Osun, through various projects. The MoU signed between the state of Osun and IITA in 2014 was the consolidation of long tradition of formal partnerships with various stakeholders around the state.

“This farm represents IITAs commitment to build on this tradition and to further enhance the transfer and adoption of IITA research to the benefit of the farmers of Osun state.

In his welcome address, the Director General, Office of Economic Development and Partnerships and Coordinator, Osun Rural Entreprise and Agriculture Programme, Dr. Charles Akinola, said the initiative was to bring technology closer to the farmers in all aspects of agricultural production.

Expounding further, Dr. Akiola revealed that part of the expectation, the state desires that a solution to the challenge of youth partnership in agricultural production should be sought so that young farmers would have lands and the impact should be seen within the next planting season.

The DG also maintained that the programme was to fulfil the promise that the State Government made to the IITA in March 2011 on the commencement of this administration.

According to him, “we are doing this to have huge production yields. It is hoped that with this, Osun farmers will begin to count gains as agriculture would be commercialised while our state would become training centre for her peers in agriculture sector.

“Youths would also be attracted to farming since this partnership would provide the necessary seeds with early maturity.

“We want to make agriculture a way of life and a real business for all and sundry”, he stressed.

While presenting the agriculture inputs to state government, the Project Leader, Cassava Weed Management and Director, development and Delivery Office, IITA, Dr. Alfred Dixon, assured the state of the organisation’s readiness to ensure that the state have highest tons and yields in all areas of agriculture.

“We are here to work with Osun government to ensure that its agricultural policies are achieved.

“Our objective is to ensure additional values in all areas of agriculture. We have come with lots of seeds. We have many farm materials and we ensure that youths in the state are encouraged to farm.

“With what we have on ground in terms of agriculture materials coupled with our expectation on yield, Osun can export farm produce to 17 states”, he said.

Zero Hunger: Obasanjo Presents Strategy For Food Security

Zero Hunger: Obasanjo Presents Strategy To End HungerNigeria’s ex-president, Olusegun Obasanjo has urged the federal government to show stronger support for farmers and build stronger institutions to end hunger in the country by 2030.

He made the recommendation while speaking on the newly developed Zero Hunger strategic review report that the federal government would need to address the reality of increasing hunger among Nigerians by 2030.

The sixty page document, which was launched in Abuja to facilitate food security, reflects Nigerians’ perspectives on effective ways to halve the number of impoverished people.

In the last few years, Nigeria has developed a reputation for evolving bold ideas to boost agriculture in the country, many of which have ended as mere paper talk.

But according to Chief Obasanjo, the latest is not just another government initiative but one that would involve intense monitoring of states to ensure rapid productivity in agriculture.

The former president also listed other important areas as recommended in the Zero Hunger Strategic Review Report.

Working with the private sector to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2, and find effective ways to beat poverty and malnutrition, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said the country stands to lose over 5 million children to malnutrition in the northeast.

The promoters say the Zero Hunger road map, which has four states as pilot to monitor agricultural productivity, will be intensely monitored every six months.

Oyo Govt. Hosts Amala Fiesta, Wows Participants

Oyo Govt. Hosts Amala Fiesta, Wows ParticipantsThe just concluded 3-day Amala Fiesta organized by the Oyo State government has left participants and exhibitors amazed by the benefits they can get from patronising local foods.

Participants, partners and exhibitors have commended the state government for the opportunity to promote the local food culture and specifically showcase the benefits of Amala and related agricultural produce.

They described the programme, with the theme ‘From the Farm to the Table’ as a fascinating event which the State government used to add value to the agricultural chain.

Participants said that the government, through the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism should be applauded for the food tourism initiative with attendant multiple beneficiaries including farmers, food vendors, research institutes, corporate organisations, artisans, traders and the general public.

The participants, partners and exhibitors were representatives from Canteen Workers Association of Nigeria, Oyo State Chapter; International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, (IITA); Tourist Care and Hospitality Association of Nigeria (TCHAN); All Women Farmers Association of Nigeria, Oyo State chapter.

There were also representatives from Iseyin, Akinyele, Ibadan North, Ibadan South East local governments and Oyo State Cocoa Development Unit.

They encouraged members of the public to consume less of chemically produced foods and urged them to take more of natural foods, stressing that natural foods are more nutritious than chemically processed foods.

Biscuit From Cassava

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the fiesta at the weekend, the Director General of IITA, Nteranya Sanginga, said that the Oyo State government has helped to showcase what IITA has been researching on.

He added that the government should be commended for the opportunity given to the exhibitors and farmers to showcase the output of their researches and efforts.

According to the DG who was represented by the Head, Food and Nutrition Laboratory of the Institute, Mr. Nwaoline Gregory, “In IITA, we want food security for the country. The programme has helped to bring out what we have been researching on in IITA.

“People were surprised that we can make biscuit, chin chin and other snacks from cassava. If not for the Amala fiesta, we might not have had the opportunity to reach so many people at this particular period.

“IITA is ready for capacity building for women and youths and we will continue to give our support to farmers in the state and the country as a whole. We thank the Oyo State government for organizing this programme”, the IITA DG said.

Eating Amala With Relish

Also, President, Canteen Workers Association of Nigeria, Oyo State Chapter, Mrs. Amdalat Iyadunni Lawal said that the government should be praised for helping them to promote their trade by espousing the benefits of Amala through the event,

She said: “When we were approached, we were not keen about the programme. But during the unveiling of the logo, we became convinced about the commitments of the state government when we saw people on tie eating Amala with relish and we were more amazed when some of them requested for additional portion.”

While thanking the state government for its support to women in agriculture in the state, the President, All Women Farmers Association of Nigeria, Oyo State chapter, Mrs. Arinola Aderibigbe called for more support and empowerment for farmers in order to have massive production of agricultural produce by women who are actively involved in agriculture.

Developing Agriculture 

In its remarks at the closing ceremony, the state government assured participants, partners, exhibitors and members of the public of its continued support to the development of the agricultural sector in the state.

The government noted that it has put necessary machinery in place for farmers in the state to produce agricultural products in larger quantities.

The State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Toye Arulogun, who spoke through the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Bashir Olanrewaju noted that the state government has never treated issues relating to agricultural sector in the state trivially, and does not intend to.

He consequently encouraged farmers to partake in its empowerment programmes, such as Agric-Oyo.

“I want to assure participants at this fiesta, that the government is taking agriculture seriously. We are very aware of the importance of farmers in the society that is why government brought about this initiative called Agric-Oyo, which has empowered farmers across the state”.

In closing the Amala Fiesta, he said: “Let me appreciate those who made this event a success, you have contributed immensely to government’s dream in promoting our local delicacy and make it more acceptable both locally and internationally.

“Through your support and participation, the government has fulfilled the important roles of promoting our food-culture and boosting the economy of the state through job creation,” Arulogun emphasized.

Highlights at the grand-finale were presentation of gifts to the Chairperson, Association of Canteen Owners, Oyo State branch, Mrs. Amdalat Iyadunni Lawal for her contribution to the success of the event.

There were also winners in the Food Vendors Category and Exhibitors category.

Omolayo Food Canteen clinched the first position in the Food vendors’ category, while Iseyin Local Government Farmers Association walked away with the first prize in the Exhibitors Category.

Scientists Seek Enhancement Of Agric Practice With Technology

Agriculture agric agribusiness Harnessing technological advancement for food production and preservation is key to successful agriculture and must be taken seriously by all stakeholders, some Nigerian scientists have suggested.

They made the suggestion in a resolution arrived at after a three-day summit at the Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IIta) Ibadan, where researchers and other stakeholders in agribusiness brainstormed on mechanisms to wipe off hunger from Nigeria.

The summit pointed out that enabling policies must be created to enhance access to research findings aimed at adequate food production, improved nutritional advantage and domesticate them for public use among rural farmers.

The major focus of the summit include leveraging on technological advancement to improve food production, sufficiency and preservation.

Participants also sought to provide an active bridge to the gap between research findings and farmers, as end users no matter how remotely located.

One of the speakers at the summit, Adebayo Akinola, a representative of the Obafemi Awolowo University, said more than 50 innovative applications were in use but there was the need for better access for farmers especially in rural areas.

The summit intends to drive the new trends for economic growth through the youth majorly, Mr Richard Olayiwola told reporters.

By 2050, the world will be battling with about 10 billion population, the only way to meet the challenges ahead can only be done with technology.

The IITA, as a major pedestal, has been turning out research findings since 1967 and will continue to drive agricultural innovations for the future but more efforts must be put into collaborating with the institute to make its findings impact maximally on Nigerians and Africa at large.

Experts Kick Against Wild Life Trafficking In Nigeria

Wild- PangolinExperts in Environmental and Wild Life Preservation across the world have kicked against wild life trafficking in the African continent especially in Nigeria.

The concern was part of the groups’ consensus at the 2016 World Pangolin Day which was held at the University of Ibadan’s Zoological Gardens on Saturday.

The programme, which was jointly put together by several stakeholders including IITA, University of Ibadan, the US and French embassies, NESREA and Local Hunters, sought to prevent further depletion and consequent extinction of the Pangolin in Nigeria, Africa and Asia where they are found.

The Pangolin, also known as ‘Akika’ in Yoruba, is a scaly animal with tremendous financial and medicinal potential which produces only one offspring per year.

The scales of a Pangolin have the most extraordinary features – they are extremely hard, calibrated serving as a cocoon of sort for the flesh, protecting it from preys and predators.

The hard exterior, however, has not been enough to protect Pangolin from poachers and hunters, who see it only as a special delicacy that must be hunted down.

The US government’s representative, Mr Nicholas Austin, said that there was need for constant and sustained dialogue, not only for Pangolin, but to discourage wild life trafficking in Nigeria.

The Head of IITA Forest Unit, Dr. Deni Brown, also opined that more serious efforts must be put into wild life conservation in Nigeria, as the country loses a lot of income to poachers and local hunters who only kill them for meat.

It is also worrisome to note that the Zoological Garden in the University of Ibadan, which hosted the event, does not have Pangolin to show participants at the event.

Recently, a container load of Pangolin scales and fresh elephant tusks which was loaded from Lagos and worth $1.3 million, was intercepted at Singapore.

Experts affirm that flood will not affect Nigeria’s food security

Just as the Minister of Agriculture recently dispelled fears over the possibility of food insecurity as a result of the flood disaster, experts in the agriculture sector have also affirmed that there is no reason to worry.

Speaking on our weekend breakfast show; Sunrise, the director of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for West Africa, Dr Roberts Asiedu, stated that “with the quantity of food produced in the country, with proper planning and mobilization, we should not have a situation where we have a on long term impact of the flood.”

According to him, the flood will even improve the soil quality because the flood will deposit rich top soil on the flooded farm lands as the flood water is moving fine soil materials from other areas and it will deposit it on the flooded plains.

The agronomist also argued that a number of disease causing organisms that would have damaged crop plants that are surviving in the soil will also be suffocated and killed.

But he warned that their will some level of pressure after the flood as it recedes as farmers rush to late planting.

He enjoined both the government and private sector to ensure that food are transported across the country in the immediate aftermath of the flood disaster to avoid an expected rush.

“There is enough food production in the country and neighbouring country; all efforts must just be made to re-direct the exported farm produce for internal consumption at a good price for the farmers.”

According to the IITA expert, Nigeria produces 67 per cent of the yams produced in the world and the country is the largest producer of cassava in the world, so he emphasised that there is no need to worry.

On addressing the challenge of post-harvest losses, the country director of Harvest Africa, Mr Paul Ilona, also affirmed that the federal government purchases and store a great deal of grains produced across the country, but added that he is not able to confirm the condition in which they are stored.

According to Mr Ilona, the current flood disaster on rough estimate has affected just about 300,000 hectares of cultivated land while the nation’s cultivated land mass exceeds 40 million hectares, so the crop expert also agrees that with adequate planning, there will be no worries about food security after the flood.