The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has refreshed its strategy, with a vision to raise 11 million people out of poverty in the tropics, and also redirect 7.5 million hectares of degraded land into sustainable use.
The refreshed strategy has been approved by the IITA Board of Trustees and emphasises the need for scientific research to achieve results at the farm level.
Addressing more than 200 national and international scientists in Ibadan, Oyo State, during the weeklong annual planning week (otherwise known as Research-for-Development Week), IITA Director General, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, called on scientists to ensure that the outcome of their research is creating a favourable impact.
In his presentation, ‘It’s time for IITA’, Sanginga highlighted the constraints to development in the tropics, particularly in Africa. He outlined factors such as poor natural resource management (soils, water, and biodiversity), yield gaps, postharvest losses, and pests and diseases as major constraints to the growth of the region.
“The unfolding scenario has placed responsibility on IITA as a research institute to help tropical nations to overcome the challenges. Everyone is looking up to IITA to provide solutions to food insecurity in Africa,” he said.
Sanginga, who assumed office two years ago, also gave a progress report, highlighting the successes recorded, the problems, and the task ahead. During the period, the Institute’s research reputation soared to a record high.
Three scientists were honoured for their achievements. Dr. Charity Mutegi won the 2013 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application; Dr. Georg Goergen was honoured by eminent international fruit-fly taxonomists of the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium (MRAC) and the Natural History Museum, London, England; while Dr. Tahirou Abdoulaye received an award from the Purdue University for protecting precious cowpea grain from pests in storage.
Funding to the Institute has doubled and the number of scientific publications in high impact factor journals has risen. Central to the growth is also the upgrade inhuman and infrastructural resources.
In the last two years, a modern Science Building has been built and launched in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; the IITA headquarters in Ibadan has gone through a remarkable upgrade. The Institute has also begun the construction of the building in the Southern Africa Hub. Staff welfare has also received close attention while attention is being given to retaining and motivating excellence.
Sanginga said the growth of the Institute had never compromised research quality, but emphasised that researchers should not rest on their laurels but ensure that delivery is sustained. “There is no excuse… we must deliver and deliver,” he said.