IITA participates in global conference on nutrition and food security
4 July 2018
IITA has been commended for its role in promoting improved nutrition and global food security through the engagement of youth in agriculture at a conference organized by the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) tagged “Emerging technologies for Global Food Security,” which was held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, 19-21 June.
The conference began with a welcome address from Dr Maurice Moloney, Executive Director and CEO of GIFS, Canada who welcomed everyone to the event and gave a summary of what should be expected from the event. Scientists and researchers from institutions around the world, including the University of Saskatoon, Cambridge University, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), International Potato Center (CIP), University of California, Davis (UC Davis), and other organizations, delivered presentations on advanced technologies in the world of genetics and plant breeding.
During his presentation, IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga emphasized the need for the world to engage the youth in the dissemination of science and research to ensure that the results of research conducted in laboratories reach the rural farmers and other grassroots users of the technologies.
The presentation made by Dr Sanginga gave a positive angle to the topics being discussed by the conference participants.
Dr Sanginga related that the intervention of IITA in the research and production of Aflasafe under the Business Incubation Platform (BIP) of the Institute has addressed the aflatoxin risk which has resulted in many fatalities in some African countries. He added that many countries have bought into the IITA-initiated innovation which is now becoming a private sector- driven initiative to increase production and meet up with the demand of Aflasafe in African countries.
Also speaking on the role of IITA in reducing youth unemployment in Africa, Dr Sanginga stressed that IITA’s engagement of young unemployed graduates in agriculture has yielded a positive result as many of the youth trained under the IITA Youth Agripreneurs initiative have embraced agriculture as a business.
He explained that the youth who were from different academic backgrounds were taken through series of training to develop skills in agriculture and business development. They were also provided with training along various agricultural value chains, mentored and coached on business management skills, and provided with start-up capital after developing bankable business plans which were vetted by business experts.
Many of the nutrition and research initiatives conducted in IITA are being out-scaled on commercial basis by the youth.
This initiative, which has resulted in the birth of agribusiness enterprises, have created jobs and employment for many others. He stressed that the youths, through developing proposals for projects, have trained other youths across Africa
Also speaking on the impact of the training and incubation program of IYA at the conference, an IYA representative, Owoeye Molayo, said that through partnerships with organizations like Chevron Nigeria Limited, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), African Development Bank (AfDB), etc., IYA has extended the impact and benefits of agribusiness to unemployed youth in multiple locations across Africa.
She explained that the youths developed proposals which were submitted to these organizations seeking partnerships on training and empowerment of youth in lucrative value chains. After the training and incubation programs, the youths are provided with starter kits which propel them towards establishing sustainable agribusiness enterprises.
She added that IYA will also be playing a crucial role in the implementation of the ENABLE-TAAT program. Through this, more youth will be trained under the agribusiness incubation to produce more CEOs that would manage the businesses.
GIFS, the conference organizer, was founded to perform research that will help to deliver transformative innovations in agriculture to both developed and developing countries. GIFS helps in creating technologies that will have commercial utility with the aim of achieving global food security.
The purpose of the conference was to share innovative knowledge, creative technology, and make critical connections needed to address the issue of global food security. About 350 scientists, policy makers, and entrepreneurs from around the world attended the conference including the emeritus Board Chair of IITA, Dr Bruce Coulman, and the chairman of the Advisory Council of BIP and member of the Board, Mr Hans Johr.
The DG also embarked on a tour of the University of Saskatchewan and the Pulse Laboratory. The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) is a Canadian public research university, founded in 1907 and located on the east side of the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon. The university began as an agricultural college in 1907 and established the first Canadian university-based department of extension in 1910. There were 120 hectares (300 acres) set aside for university buildings and 400 ha (1,000 acres) for the U of S farm, and agricultural fields. In total 10.32 km2 (3.98 mi2) were annexed for the university. The University of Saskatchewan agriculture college still has access to neighboring urban research lands. The DG visited the Mechanization unit, Malting Lab, Pulse Lab, and the Baking Lab.