By Ochieng’ Ogodo
[NAIROBI] The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have decided to step up collaboration in tackling the challenge of hunger.
The two major centers in Africa that are part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), intend to build synergies that would unleash the power of crop and livestock improvements to address poverty and malnutrition in Africa.
Director General of ILRI, Dr Jimmy Smith and his IITA counterpart Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga are currently in ongoing discussion on how this can be effected.
At a dinner held in honor of Smith on Saturday May 5 in Ibadan, Nigeria, Sanginga said he foresaw a closer partnership of the two institutes.
He reiterated that IITA alone could not solve all of Africa’s problems, hence the need for partnership with institutes with similar vision as IITA.
The two institutes have in the past joined forces in bringing benefits to African farmers in projects such as ‘Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in Borno’ or PROSAB.
That project which was implemented in northern Nigeria helped raise incomes by 81 percent among participating households and also improved the nutrition of beneficiaries.
“We need to work more closely to help farmers get benefits,” Sanginga said in a press release.
The Director General, (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga (left) in a tête-à-tête with the
Director General of (ILRI), Dr Jimmy Smith (right), in Ibadan, Nigeria
Smith said he envisioned IITA and ILRI harnessing their strengths for the betterment of farmers.
According to him, the presence of a ‘crop and a livestock’ research partnership in Africa provided an opportunity for the continent to mine.
The Kenya headquartered ILRI has as its mandate improvement of the productivity of livestock while IITA based in Nigeria works towards improvement of sub-Saharan’s major staples such as cassava, yam, maize, soybean, cowpea, cocoa, banana and plantain. Both institutes operate Africa wide, and have over the years signed an agreement to maintain offices on each other’s campus.
Dr Iheanacho Okike, ILRI’s Country Representative in Nigeria, said the collaboration between IITA and ILRI was a step in the right direction that would create a major impact in sub-Saharan Africa. “It is a perfect alignment,” he added.
He noted that the discussion for greater partnership between the two institutes was at an opportune time when the CGIAR through its reform agenda is fostering greater collaboration among centers.