FG, IITA Partners to Tackle Nigeria’s Agriculture Sector Bottlenecks

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Gilbert Ekugbe

The federal government and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have entered into a partnership arrangement that would find lasting solutions to the nation’s agricultural sector.

The country’s agricultural sector is still challenged by low yield, decline in soil fertility, scarcity of inputs and inadequate mechanisation.

The Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Colleges and Institutions, Mr. Munir Dan’agundi, said during a courtesy visit to IITA headquarters that these challenges could be tackled by prioritising investments into research and development.

Dan’agundi said: “IITA’s research will create more impact by collaborating with national agricultural research systems to devise more solutions to agricultural problems in Nigeria. We need collaboration and cooperation for the new agenda for good agricultural policies that emphasise coordination and support to increase productivity, research and extension, value addition, and reduce postharvest loss.”

Earlier, the Director General of IITA, Mr. Nteranya Sanginga, said the visit was to initiate partnership around fund coordination and cooperation for a new agenda for good agricultural policies in Nigeria.
Sanginga emphasised on the need to create opportunities for youth employment, reduce importation of food and the use of technology need to be championed for the population’s survival.

He said: “The mindset of the youth has to be changed regarding agriculture, as the sector can create more employment opportunities; hence, IITA needs your support to continue what we are doing.”

On her part, the IITA Food and Nutrition Scientist, Ms. Busie Maziya-Dixon, gave an overview of the National Food Consumption and Micronutrient Survey (NFCMS), a collaborative project between IITA and several ministries aimed at assessing the micronutrient status and dietary intake of women of reproductive age, children, and non-pregnant adolescent girls.

Maziya-Dixon, “Government agencies and research organisations will use the information from the survey to develop initiatives to address key nutrition issues.”

The Project Coordinator, Start Them Early Program (STEP), Mr. Adedayo Adefioye, highlighted activities of the project and how it is helping youth understand and be involved in agriculture and also shared some of STEP’s achievements.

One of the Co-founders of Frotchery Farms Hammed Oni, shared the success story of how their agribusiness was impacted by the IITA Youth Agripreneur (IYA) programme.

Speaking on the way forward, the Executive Secretary of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Mr. Garba Sharubutu, highlighted three major areas of collaboration with IITA; coordination of funds to develop research institutes, capacity building to accomplish the mandate of the institutes, and the need to synergize.

Responding to the absence of cocoa in the IITA gene bank, Dashiell said IITA is working with Ghana and other partners in looking at the genetic relationships, purity, and agronomic aspects of cocoa. Hence, “we hope to expand and look for further opportunities for cocoa in the new CGIAR,” he said.