Federal Gov’t, World Bank, IITA Commit To Boosting Agric Innovation, Food Security

Federal Gov’t, World Bank, IITA Commit To Boosting Agric Innovation, Food Security

The Federal Government, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the World Bank have pledged to form a formidable partnership on innovative agricultural practices to address food insecurity in Nigeria and the broader sub-Saharan African region.

This was the outcome of a high-level meeting between Vice President Kashim Shettima and a delegation from the IITA, World Bank, and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday.

Speaking during the meeting, VP Shettima in a statement by his spokesman, Stanley Nkwocha said the initiative is focused on increasing yield, and the IITA is in a vantage position to assist not only Nigeria but sub-Saharan Africa in repositioning the agriculture ecosystem through smart agriculture, climate-resilient agriculture and improved seedlings.

“The IITA is at a vantage position to assist not just Nigeria but sub-Saharan Africa towards repositioning the agriculture ecosystem through smart agriculture, climate resilient agriculture, and improved seedlings,” he said.

Shettima noted the significant role of the IITA which was established in 1967 to shape Nigeria’s agricultural landscape.

“More than ever before, we need the IITA now. By 2050, we will be the third most populous nation on earth,” Shettima stated.

The Vice President also noted the interdependence between the economy and ecology exacerbated by desertification, climate change and insecurity challenges in the Sahel region.

“In the food basket of the nation, there is an incestuous relationship between economy and ecology because of desertification and climate change. The productivity of our agriculture is poor, and is compounded by insecurity, which might not be unconnected with the challenges in the Sahel,” he explained.

Calling for close collaboration with the IITA, the VP pointed out the importance of investing in agriculture as a business.

He specifically requested the institute’s assistance in providing high-quality seeds for maize and root crops, particularly cassava.

The Vice President lauded the widespread adoption of IITA’s improved cassava seedlings in the Southwest region, urging the institute to extend similar initiatives to other sub-Saharan African nations.

Earlier, the Director General of the IITA, Dr Simeon Ehui, thanked the Vice President for his leadership and commitment to the development of agriculture in Nigeria and support to the Institute.

Dr Ehui said the delegation was in Abuja for a strategic meeting that aims to review IITA’s partnerships, collaborations and stakeholder engagements, all to support the Federal Government’s efforts in addressing food security in Nigeria and across West Africa.

On his part, IITA’s Deputy Director General, Partnerships, Dr Dashiell Kenton said the institute is supporting a few initiatives of the Federal Government to create employment opportunities for young Nigerians in the sector.

According to him, the ‘Youth in Agribusiness’ initiative of the Bola Tinubu administration is commendable and should be scaled up to empower more young Nigerians.

He assured that the institute will through the initiative, empower more smallholder farmers with knowledge on improved agricultural practices.

In the same vein, the World Bank Practice Manager for Agriculture and Food Global Practice, Mr. Abel Lufafa, said the IITA, World Bank and other partners were delighted with the level of interest and quantum of support deployed by the Tinubu administration in revamping agricultural productivity in the country.

He said the President and Vice President are demonstrating uncommon leadership in repositioning agricultural production in Nigeria, just as he noted that the World Bank and other partners are impressed with the paradigm shift, especially the change to a government-led collaboration in the sector.

Similarly, a senior researcher at the International Food Policy Research Institute, Channing Arndt, said the organisation’s partnership with IITA cuts across diverse areas of agricultural value

Arndt noted however that the primary objective is to support ongoing efforts to improve agricultural practices and rapidly boost food production.

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