Friday, April 12, 2024

IITA Calls on African Leaders to Prioritize Agriculture for Food Security

The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has called on African leaders to commit to agricultural transformation by earmarking a larger percentage of annual budgets to agriculture in the continent.

The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has called on African leaders to commit to agricultural transformation by earmarking a larger percentage of annual budgets to agriculture in the continent.

The Director-General for the institute, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, said this at a media conference organized by the institute as part of activities to celebrate the end of his tenure after 11 years of leading the largest agricultural research institute in Africa.

Sarginga assumed the leadership of IITA on November 1, 2011, as the first African to lead the institute, hails from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Before joining IITA, he was the director of the Nairobi-based CIAT-TBSF.

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He has more than 21 years of experience with the University of Zimbabwe and has trained more than 30 PhD candidates at the National University of Congo, School of Agriculture, and University of Zimbabwe, who now hold leadership positions in their countries.

The IITA boss noted that many heads of state only claim that agriculture is a priority, but when you look into the budget for agriculture, it is almost nothing. He used Nigeria as an example, claiming that if agriculture were a priority, the budget allocated to it would be much higher than the current 2%.

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He pointed out that poor leadership, lack of political will and commitment were constraints to agricultural transformation on the continent, despite the huge potential that abounds that should be translated into the exportation of farm produce to strengthen the economy and provide jobs in Africa.

“In 2011, when I became the DG here, I was lucky to have my friend, Dr. Akinwummi Adesina, become the Minister of Agriculture. In five years, he basically changed the face of agriculture. But when he was replaced, his successor basically somersaulted the policies, and all that he did between 2011 and 2015 went down the drain. “So, the challenge with agriculture in Africa is basically leadership.”

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