By Akanimo Sampson
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has joined the fight against the spread of the rampaging coronavirus in Nigeria, and other countries it is operating.
Its Director-General, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, says IITA is strategically working towards providing support for the federal and state governments to curb the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Other countries where IITA hubs are situated are also to benefit from the initiative.
Sanginga said this at a meeting of staff and management to announce Institute-wide measures to curb the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
At the meeting, he also announced the partial shutdown of the Institute with effect from March 30. This is in accordance with the government’s directive for organisations to put in place mechanisms that will support efforts to tackle the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
IITA will be operating on a skeletal schedule with a few essential members of staff to ensure that ongoing research that is key to addressing food security in Africa is not affected.
Sanginga mentioned that while staff should endeavour to follow correct precautionary measures, IITA would continue its core research function, which is important to the food security of Africa and the rest of the world.
“This is why our activities have to continue as Africa’s food security is dependent on the research we do at the Institute,” he adds.
A session of the meeting was dedicated to a health talk, which was delivered by Dr. Samson Adeleke, Head of IITA’s Clinic.
This was to further reinforce information on precautions, causes, and control measures while also increasing awareness about COVID-19 among staff while the partial shutdown is being observed.
“Handwashing and physical and social distancing are key activities that everyone is required to observe; standard handwashing should take at least 20 seconds. The use of hand sanitizers should support handwashing”, he says.
Head of Human Resources, Lilian Mendoza, highlights the plans of the Institute during the partial shutdown.
Mendoza explains that the Institute would continue critical operations with essential staff.
Meanwhile, Sanginga assured all staff during the briefing that salaries will be fully paid during the shutdown.
The decision of the partial shutdown comes when IITA has decided to not only focus on protecting staff across all hubs but also to protect the research that is key to Africa’s zero hunger target and the world’s food security.