Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, will on Monday speak on food security and Nigeria’s preparedness to diversify its economy using agriculture as a lever.
Prof Osinbajo would lead other dignitaries and leaders from scientific research, education, and corporate organizations from African countries and beyond, in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on Monday, 24 July 2017 in Ibadan.
He will be joined by former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd), and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also IITA Goodwill Ambassador.
At the event, the Acting President will address more than 300 international, regional, and national experts, and unveil the country’s thinking towards agriculture especially in the context of economic diversification.
A statement by IITA said that Osinbajo will also speak on the critical role of IITA—Africa’s biggest international agricultural research institute—in the transformation of Africa’s agriculture.
According to Dr Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General, the world is waiting for Nigeria to take leadership in the agricultural space…and the acting president’s message would be critical in helping participants to understand the country’s agricultural development agenda.
He said: “Since our inception 50 years ago, IITA has evolved into a strategic partner for research-for-development in sub-Saharan Africa with over 200 scientists working in over 18 countries. This event is therefore an opportunity for us to celebrate our past successes with all our partners, friends, and beneficiaries and reflect on our future role in our efforts to transform agriculture in the next 50 years,”
The event is slated to showcase the strides made by IITA researchers in collaboration with a range of partners and their impact on agriculture in the region in improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. These include adoption of almost 400 varieties of cassava with increased yields and better resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses; developing nearly 200 improved soybeans, and 78 improved yam varieties. Besides, over 70% of the over 300 maize varieties with IITA germplasm and drought-tolerant maize developed in partnership with CIMMYT has been adopted in 13 countries with projected economic gains of US$907 million.
Impact has also been felt in improving nutrition through promoting legumes such as cowpea and soybean, developing biofortified yellow cassava with enhanced vitamin A and the effective and safe biocontrol solution, Aflasafe, to control aflatoxins in maize and groundnut that is being rolled out in a number of countries.
“We are also expecting to hear bold statements on Africa’s agriculture and the commissioning of the IITA Youth Agripreneur building by the President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akin Adesina,” Sanginga added.