Monday, February 3, 2014

Agricultural transformation in Africa now in sight

Ghanaian Consul General with IITA officials
Ghanaian Consul-General Alhaji Abdulai Abukari, who paid a courtesy visit to IITA, says research outputs and innovations at the Institute are signs that agricultural transformation in Africa is no longer a distant reality.

Since 1967, IITA has been working with national and international partners to develop agricultural innovations including high-yielding crop varieties that are addressing the issue of yield gaps on the continent and putting money into farmers’ pockets.

“I am impressed and Africa is lucky to have an institution like IITA. I also see that your research is relevant and is addressing the challenges facing farmers. I see Africa feeding itself in the near future,” Mr Abukari said.

The Ghanaian envoy who was received by IITA Management—Acting Director General Kenton Dashiell; Deputy Director General (Corporate Services) Kwame Akuffo-Akoto; Humidtropics Director Kwesi Atta-Krah; and Director for Western Africa, Robert Asiedu—visited the Genetic Resources Center, Crop Utilization Unit, Postharvest Unit, Business Incubation Platform, yam aeroponics facility, the IITA Youth Agripreneurs office, and also made a tour of the 1,000-hectare campus.

Easy-to-make machines that reduce drudgery in cassava processing by women and children, food-safety strategies to tackle aflatoxins, conservation of Africa’s key staples, and the aggressive focus on capacity development and youth were areas that struck a chord with Mr Abukari.

While thanking IITA staff for their dedication to their work, Mr Abukari urged IITA to partner more with his government and pay closer attention to the issues around policies, markets, and institutions.

He commended IITA for its focus on smallholder farmers, stressing that more than 70 percent of those involved in agriculture in Africa operate on a small scale and that interventions targeting them would have positive benefits.

Dr Robert Asiedu gave an overview of IITA activities in West Africa, highlighting that the Institute has had good relationships with partners and institutions in Ghana.

Mr Abukari also had discussions with DDG Akuffo-Akoto on areas that would facilitate an increased presence of IITA in Ghana.

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