Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the President of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, His Excellency, Dr Ali Mohamed Shein, will be among the special guests that will attend the inauguration of the multi-million dollar science building recently constructed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
The inauguration of the ultra modern science building on May 13 will also attract members of the diplomatic corps, development partners and farmers.
Located in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in East Africa, the IITA Science Building will bring scientific solutions to agricultural problems closer to the people of that region with the ultimate aim of improving agricultural productivity, sustainable development, and wealth creation.
President Shein, while receiving a delegation from IITA led by the Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, commended the Institute for investing in the science building to boost agriculture and that region’s research capacity.
He also lauded IITA for its work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MANR) in boosting the production and productivity of root and tuber crops, especially cassava and yam, and appealed for more support in cassava value addition.
Accepting the invitation for the inauguration, which was signed by former President Obasanjo (who is also IITA Goodwill Ambassador); President Shein noted that agricultural research is critical to Africa’s transformation.
According to him, the value chain approach to agricultural research that seeks to diversify products from commodities could help Africa to maximize the gains from productivity increases.
“In Zanzibar, we are good eaters of cassava since time immemorial. In the morning, we boil fresh cassava for breakfast and cook it with coconut for lunch. We also dry it for two to three days into what we call ‘makopa’ which we make for dinner. However, we need to help our farmers to diversify its uses beyond boiling and making makopa by adding value. This way, we will also diversify their income,” he said.
Dr Sanginga assured President Shein that IITA would support the government of Zanzibar in its effort promote value addition to its commodities.
According to him, the state-of-the-art science building will be opened to researchers from eastern Africa and students to carry out research on various problems facing small-holder farmers.
Citing the Nigerian experience, Dr Sanginga said that IITA had contributed in improving the productivity of cassava in that country, making it to rank as the number one producer of cassava in the world with several products from value addition.
He noted that favorable policies in Nigeria were also driving the production of the root crop.
“Recently in Nigeria, the government passed a policy that all bread must include 20% cassava flour. This will translate into savings of billions of US dollars in reduced wheat importation with the money going to small-holder farmers and processors instead.”
“Our researchers have shown that it is even possible to increase the cassava flour in the bread up to 40% without compromising quality,” he added.
At the meeting were Dr Abdulhamid Y. Mzee, the Chief Secretary, Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar; Dr Victor Manyong, IITA Director for Eastern Africa; Mr Affan O. Maalim, the Principal Secretary, and Ms Mariam Juma, Director of Planning, MANR; Mr Haji Sale, Director of ZARI, Dr Suleiman S. Muhamed, Officer-in-Charge of Pemba, and Catherine Njuguna, IITA Regional Corporate Communications Officer.