Friday, November 1, 2013

Tap IITA, DDG Ken Dashiell tells Zambian partners

Dr Ken Dashiell during his seminar presentation at UNZA in Lusaka, Zambia.
On 15 October, Dr Ken Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General, Partnerships and Capacity Development, kicked off the Southern Africa Research-for-Development Seminar Series, appealing to Zambian partners to “tap IITA’s expertise to reinforce the capacity of national agricultural research institutions to help Zambia’s agriculture sector reach its full potential”.
Dr Dashiell aired this message during his seminar-presentation titled “The University of Zambia (UNZA), Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI), and IITA: A partnership to develop agricultural solutions to hunger and poverty in Zambia”, which was held at the Omnia Lecture Hall 2 of the School of Agriculture of UNZA in Lusaka. More than 60 participants comprising of students, staff, and representatives from UNZA, ZARI, IITA, government, and private seed companies attended the seminar.
During the seminar, the DDG also laid out IITA’s plans to expand its capacity develeopment and partnership efforts in Southern Africa. This includes increasing the number of students being trained by its scientists in the region, developing new agriculture-related training areas geared towards people with little or no formal education, linking with rural and urban schools to help them develop appropriate agriculture curriculum, and conducting training of youths to empower them to be agri-entrepreneurs.
He also emphasized the three essential components for these efforts to create impact. He said, “We need to mainstream gender in research and dissemination, develop appropriate capacities, and upscale technologies.”
“Definitely, IITA cannot do this alone. Therefore, I would like to highlight the importance of the partnership that we have with UNZA, ZARI, the private sector, and the government of Zambia. Together we would be able to achieve our common vision of reducing poverty and improving food security not only for Zambia and the Southern Africa region, but more so for the entire continent,” he added.
“And with the establishment of our Southern Africa Research and Administration Hub (SARAH) facilities a year from now, we would be able to more effectively deliver our R4D mandate in the country and in the region,” Dr Dashiell said. IITA-Zambia broke ground for SARAH on 12 September.
“I would also like to laud this collaborative Southern Africa R4D Seminar Series. This initiative will definitely become a centerpiece platform for UNZA, ZARI, and IITA to exchange and share expertise and information in the field of agricultural research and entice future agricultural researchers and scientists. I am confident that we will have more partners on board as this seminar series rolls on,” Dr Dashiell emphasized.

Dr Mick Mwala, Dean of UNZA’s School of Agriculture, shared the DDG’s views, saying that “on the part of UNZA, we will definitely be calling on IITA for support, not only for our students but also for our faculty and staff. I thank IITA-Zambia for having some of our students under its scientists’ wings, but I am also looking forward to seeing more being trained by IITA in the future.” 

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