The Director General, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Dr. Simon Ehui has called on the African Heads of State to contribute to combat food insecurity and hunger in Africa.
Speaking with journalists at the IITA headquarters in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital recently, Ehui recalled that the African Heads of State, in one of their meetings in Malabo, committed to encourage agriculture including research to the tune of ten percent of their budget noting that while some were fulfilling that, others did not.
“So, in terms of funding, I wish to reemphasize that following the commitment of the African Heads of State in Dakar, at the African Development Bank led conference on food security and food sovereignty, my appeal is to African countries to do their best to contribute to food security, combat food insecurity and hunger in the land. That should be the premium source of funding”, he said.
Pointing out that the problem of food insecurity and malnutrition continue to increase significantly, Ehui who is also the Regional Director, CGIAR for Africa added, “With population growth rate, we have no less than three hundred million people going hungry every day in Africa. When you look at the map of the world, there are twenty four hunger hotspots, sixteen of them are in Africa and we need to do something about it.
“But you know that the needs are much more than what we have. So, continuous funding is important.”
The IITA DG re-echoed that one of the ways to ensure continuous funding was to continue to demonstrate the impact on the ground so that the donors, the foundations, the bilaterals, the developed countries that were providing resources could continue to be supportive of providing resources because they see impact on the ground.
“That’s why IITA created this Programme for Delivery to show the impact on the ground. When you can see that the contributions you are making financially is having an impact on people, you are willing to convince your tax payer to borrow more money. So, we need to continue to provide impact on the ground through your research and then, money will come.
“The other way of improving your resources, that’s why the CGIAR is also reforming. Instead of going individually, let’s say IITA goes to a donor, ILRI goes to the same donor and AfricaRice goes to the same donor, we now want it to be as a consortium, CGIAR to talk to donors to say we are one entity and we want to address food insecurity problem, we want to show that we can deliver result so that they can give the resources to the consortium and then, the consortium can decide how to allocate them.
“So, it is a business thing we are and we want to increase the business and I am counting on you, the communication people to spread the word about the importance of funding, research and development to make a difference. It’s not just the researchers, it is also you , how you pass the message to others”, he further said.
He, however, extended his gratitude to donors that have supported the CGIAR over the many years. “Let me start with the national, for example, IITA is benefitting from the donation of the federal government of Nigeria. We are on a one thousand acres of land since 1967 and providing us an opportunity to operate and do research for the past fifty seven years. It’s a huge contribution is being made.
“I also want to recognize the bilateral donors, developed countries, the foundations that have permitted research to take place over the years and have permitted IITA to have a huge impact on the ground and develop a lot of technologies”, he concluded.
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