• We’ve People Less Hungry, Less Poor Across Continent, Says Sanginga
Outgoing Director General, of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, has expressed dissatisfaction over the lackadaisical attitude of most African governments and critical stakeholders to the development of agriculture across the continent.
Addressing a selected team of journalists during his valedictory press conference at the institute’s headquarters in Ibadan Oyo State, Sanginga, said it was most disturbing that despite the abundant natural, human and other endowments, most African governments are still depending on their former colonial nations to develop agriculture.
Sanginga lamented the poor budgeting for agriculture, saying the sector alone can turn around the fortune of the continent economically only if the necessary focus, determination and right policies are in place.
He, however, disclosed that the Institute, under his stewardship in the last 11 years, had helped to contribute to achieving across Africa, over 150 million fewer hungry people, and 100 million fewer poor people, improving food and nutrition security, as well as improving natural resources and ecosystem services as part of the CGIAR Strategy 2016-2030.
Sanginga, who disclosed that IITA had brought about tremendous transformations in the African agricultural landscape, said the institute is appropriately positioned to do more to help Africa, especially Nigeria, in areas of research, training and generating more employment, if political and economic will are there.
According to him, “In the last 11 years, we have strategically positioned the institute to contribute to achieving 150 million fewer hungry people, 100 million fewer poor people, improving food and nutrition security, as well as improving natural resources and ecosystem services as part of the CGIAR Strategy 2016-2030.”
He also said the institute, under the youth agripreneurs programme, which he initiated in 2012, has created jobs for thousands of youths by making agriculture and agribusiness appealing to young people in many African countries, a programme that has now evolved into a movement across the continent and since been integrated into the Business Incubation Platform (BIP), the technology delivery arm of IITA.
According to him, “The IITA Youth Agripreneurs programme focuses on mentoring and building the capacity of young people, especially youth in science, entrepreneurship, and agriculture/agribusiness in Africa.”
He noted that under his tenure, the Business Incubation Platform started, which according to him oversees IITA’s science and technologies in breeding and variety screening, genetics, cultivation techniques, plant health, disease control and biopesticide development, growth stimulation, and vegetative and generative multiplication delivery to end-users across Africa.
“IITA-BIP serves as a model to stimulate product development and to provide opportunities for market expansion on the continent.
“With BIP, technologies like Aflasafe, a safe and natural solution to the problem of aflatoxin, and Nodumax, an inoculant and biofertilizer that boosts the yield of crops like soybeans, are helping smallholder farmers improve their livelihoods. Adopting the use of ICT, the GoSeed initiative under IITA-BIP is producing and marketing quality breeder and foundation seeds to private seed companies for distribution and sale to farmers.”
Sanginga also said part of the ground-breaking results from IITA’s research is helping to strengthen national agricultural research and extension systems, which according to him, would strengthen Africa’s seed sector; scaling models-public-private partnerships; engaging youth in agriculture; developing improved varieties, agronomy, crop protection; establishing sustainable intensification/diversification; linking smallholder farmers to markets; mechanization, postharvest, and processing; establishing the importance of gender and youth; while developing safe and nutritious food, all of which will strategically impact the progress of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.”
A statement that was also issued by the media contacts of IITA, headed by Katherine Lopez, says, “Under Dr. Sanginga’s 11 years of leadership, IITA received the Al-Sumait Award for Food Security in 2016 and the Africa Food Prize in 2018; the institute has transformed from a pan-African research organisation into the largest international agricultural research center in tropical Africa, developing solutions to agricultural and development challenges and contributing to food and nutrition security in the region.
“In 2021, he was conferred with the title of Aare Afurugbin Ola of the Source (Lead Sower of Wealth and Prosperity of the House Oduduwa) by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye, Ojaja II.
“Dr Sanginga is also the African Regional Director of CGIAR, a global partnership that unites international organizations engaged in research about food security.
“The conferment recognised Dr Sanginga’s achievements as one of the illustrious sons of Africa who has contributed immensely to the development and promotion of the financial and economic stability and growth of the continent.”