50 years after, IITA reels out achievements, empowers youths through agriculture


The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has said that it has made significant progress in research and agriculture in the last 50 years of its existence.

The Deputy Director-General Partnership for Delivery, Mr. Kenton Dashiell who stated this in Lagos Friday said the research being carried out by the institute was practical research that would help small scale, medium scale and large scale farmers in Africa to have high yield, more profit and also cause those associated industries in the value chain, those industries that store the harvests and the proceeds processed into final products.

Dashiell informed that the institute boasts of two major divisions doing the work namely; Research for Development as well as Research and Partnership for Delivery that take those research results to the end users so that the farmers would have impacts on people and the society.

“Then, the way we do both our research and delivery is with partnership. So, for example, our research programmes on cassava and yam which National Roots and Crops Research Institute which based in Umudike here in Nigeria and we partner with many other Universities and other research institutes here in Nigeria. We are international, so, in addition to the stations that we have here in Nigeria which are Ibadan, Kano, Abuja, Onne and also many other places where we do work in the country, we have research and delivery projects and personnel in seventeen other countries, only in Africa, we focus on Africa.

“Recently, we have within the last three or four years, put emphasis on working with the youth and we have made the programme on the youth to help them to have the technical and business skills to start their own agricultural business and we have several successes in different places in the country already. We also have what is called the business incubation platform and this is how IITA interacts directly with the businesses that are starting up and that are already established here in Nigeria”, he said.

On her part, the Deputy Director-General Corporate Services IITA, Hilde Koper-Limbourg observed that when plans were made to establish IITA, several countries were considered adding in Nigeria, Ibadan was chosen to house the headquarters of the Institute even as she said that they were actually glad about that decision.

Limbourg said that over the last 50 years, IITA had been able to work very well in Nigeria, own a lot, achieve a lot and that they wouldn’t have come that far without support of the Nigerian authorities, Nigerian partners and of course, the Nigerian people.

According to her,” This support has really helped us to achieve our goals as I said, 50 years ago. In 1967, we established and we were one of the very first African research centres that established. We are a partner of CGIAR which is the global partnership for food security and they are all over the world and we were one of the first there. We also have sister centres in other African countries, in Latin America and Asia. IITA today as you have heard operates from four hubs and seventeen stations in the sub-Saharan Africa but our headquarters are in Ibadan.

“So, we employ in Nigeria about 2000 Nigerian staff and about 100 international staff. We have a campus in Ibadan and it is about 1000 hectares and there we have offices, we have a lot of research fields, we have accommodations. IITA is funded by funding projects from several donors. Our main donors are organizations like the Africa Development Bank, USAID, Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation but we have many donors and a lot of governments also give us fund. The Nigerian government supports IITA as well”.

She averred that IITA was still growing and that they were trying to do all in the works to get new proposals, new funding to achieve their set goal even as she said that they still hope to keep growing and working well from their world stations and from their headquarters here in Nigeria.

Also speaking, the Director, Research for Development Directorate, Western Africa, Mr. Robert Asiedu submitted that they carry out research to ensure that they maintain the natural resources like the soil and water that really form the bedrock for crop production adding that that was at the last state level.

According to him,” But also at the plot of farmer level, efficiencies and practices that make the production system more effective and efficient and more profitable, we do research on that from here. Then in terms of pests and diseases, we have a team of scientists that focus on ensuring that either through the natural ability, enhancing the natural ability of plants to resist the disease and pests through biological control effort where we bring either natural agents to control the pests. We protect the crops in the field and also at the post-harvest level during storage to ensure that the food is safe and that we do not incur losses at that particular time.

“We engage in a lot of crop improvement effort through breeding, conventional means as well as using biotechnology effort to ensure that the crops that we have remained productive while the environment is sort of getting worse and worse. Then, we focus a lot on utilization options both at the domestic level, industrial level and also for animal feed for the commodities that we work on. Our social scientists are very active, first of all in defining and describing for us the socio-economic and then the policy environment in which the farmers’ process and traders operate so that we can sort of sharpen the work that we do. And this you know we try to look at from the business perspective because the farmers do not compartmentalize the work that they do”.

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