Joseph Inokotong, Abuja
Director General of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Nteranya Sanginga has said that the rejuvenation of IITA facility in Nigeria was crucial for the institute’s sustained efforts to transform agriculture on the continent.
“We are excited to see a state in Nigeria showing the example by supporting infrastructure in an international agricultural research centre. This is not common, and we commend the government and people of Oyo state,” he said.
He stated this when Nigeria’s former President and IITA goodwill ambassador, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and the Oyo state Governor, Abiola Ajimobi at the weekend commissioned two key projects at the IITA, Ibadan, an agricultural transformation building dedicated to research and delivery of innovations to farmers across Nigeria in particular and Africa in general and a 10.5km ring road the research centre.
Dr. Sanginga also commended the Nigerian government and the African Development Bank (AfDB) for their support towards the construction of the building, adding that it would accelerate the pace of research and accommodate the best/critical human and material resources needed to bring transformation to the agricultural sector.
In a statement, the IITA explained that the construction of the building commenced in 2017 with a foundation laying ceremony as part of projects initiated to mark the 50th anniversary of IITA.
The building comprises 22 offices, 8 large laboratory spaces, a conference room and a utility facility while the 10.5km road on the other hand covers part of the perimeter fence of the 1, 000-hectare campus of IITA.
The road was constructed by the Oyo state government as part of efforts to support agricultural research.
According to the statement, Sen. Ajimobi said the support given to IITA was in realization of the importance of agriculture to Oyo state, and the contribution of IITA to agricultural development in the state.
“Today Oyo state is the best place to invest and promote agriculture because we have IITA located in the state,” he said.
The event also witnessed the presentation of the Oyo state agricultural transformation policy framework.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his remarks tasked Governor Ajimobi, IITA and NISER to work towards ensuring that recommendations in the policy framework were implemented by the incoming administration, adding that “our problem is not policy formulation but implementation.”
He commended Gov. Ajimobi for supporting IITA and called for the extension of innovations generated from research stations to farmers because there was a gap between research institutions and ordinary smallholder farmers.