IITA names research station in Kalambo after longtime collaborator and Goodwill Ambassador
4 October 2019
President of DRC, His Excellency Felix Tshisekedi, officiated the event alongside former DRC President HE Joseph Kabila and Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). Other Heads of State and dignitaries from DR Congo and the Great Lakes Region also attended.
IITA has been operational in DRC since 1974, when the government invited the Institute to implement the National Cassava Program (Programme National Manioc – PRONAM) to tackle all cassava problems, mainly cassava bacterial blight through research for development. IITA closely collaborates with the Institut National pour l’Etude et la Recherche Agronomiques (INERA) in the development of healthy, nutritious, and profitable technologies. In addition, the Institute partners with the National Extension Service (Service National de Vulgarisation [SNV]), for dissemination of technologies and the National Seed Service (Service National de Semences [SENASEM]) for control and certification of seed.
For many years, the station in Kalambo operated in project mode but in 2011, the IITA Board of Trustees decided to elevate it to become the focal point of the Institute’s regional hub for natural resource management in the Great Lakes. It now features a first-class tissue culture lab for the vegetative multiplication of cassava, banana, cocoa, yam, and potato.
The Kalambo station is dedicated to IITA and its partners’ mission of fighting hunger and poverty in the continent and contributes towards boosting agricultural productivity in DR Congo and the region. As IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga noted, it is also “a symbol of our dedication and commitment to building the research and development capacity in DR Congo and the Great Lakes”.
As IITA Goodwill Ambassador since 2011, Dr Obasanjo has championed policies to advance agricultural research and fight food insecurity on the African continent. He is currently spearheading the Zero Hunger Initiative that has strong relevance to DR Congo.
In addition to these, naming this campus after him will honor the sacrifices he endured since 1961 when as a young Soldier he was part of the UN troops that was mandated to make peace in DR Congo after independence. He also made much effort to mediate peace in 2008 when rebels invaded the country.