By Akanimo Sampson
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) says it is ready to work with the Federal Government to address the issue of food security in Nigeria.
IITA’s Deputy Director General of Partnerships for Delivery, Kenton Dashiell, who made this known said the Institute is also ready to work with government to address production of quality commodities for export.
Dashiell was speaking while chairing a meeting when the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) visited the Institute.
NEPC is exploring possible ways of strengthening its collaboration with IITA. To this end, a delegation from the Export Assistance Office, in the Southwest zone visited the Institute in Ibadan, Oyo State.
The visit began with a meeting to establish its purpose and highlight the various areas IITA is working on to address food security in Africa.
It also explored how the NEPC can tap into the available structures in place at the Institute to promote the export of agriculture commodities such as cassava, soybean, cowpea, plantain, and banana, which are IITA’s mandate crops.
“We are interested in working as a team in this partnership to ensure that some of the challenges encountered in producing export-worthy commodities are addressed”, says Dashiell.
Speaking on behalf of the NEPC delegation, Samuel Oyeyipo, Southwest Regional Coordinator, who is also a Deputy Director at the Council said, “the Council is working with a ‘one state, one product’ approach, as part of a plan to ensure that each state in Nigeria is focused on a mandated commodity, and IITA has the technology and capacity to influence export quality especially in Southwest Nigeria.”
Following a tour of some of IITA’s facilities such as the Business Incubation Unit, cassava processing center, soybean trial sites, Aflasafe factory, and Nodumax center, the delegation further identified areas such as capacity building, provision of improved varieties as well as backstopping and advisory services on postharvest processes and machines that the collaboration would address.
IITA Director for Development and Delivery, Alfred Dixon, who was also present at the meeting, said that the study visit is a welcome development for both parties following a partnership MoU that had earlier been signed.
“If Nigeria can successfully address some of the challenges that have been identified in this meeting, it is certain that the rest of Africa would be able to record success stories as well,” he adds.
The 10-man delegation agreed to follow up on the action plans identified during the visit while Dashiell assured the delegation of IITA’s commitment to food security and transforming agriculture in Nigeria and Africa.