UN Deputy Secretary-General visits IITA in Ibadan, Nigeria

20 December 2021

The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Hajia Amina J. Mohammed, paid an official courtesy visit to the IITA headquarters in Ibadan as part of plans to address some developmental issues, including the acceleration of the sustainable development goals and climate change in Nigeria.

Meeting with IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga and some Directors, the UN Deputy Secretary-General went on a tour of the Institute’s activities and an exhibition of the innovations being developed and outscaled by IITA to address food insecurity in Africa.

During the visit on 4 December, Hajia Mohammed said, “There is so much going on at this level, I am not sure it informs the global level, so we need to be demand-driven. We need to know what is expected from countries like Nigeria, as there is a huge science space, and we need to respond to these demands rather than just sort of share the north-south divide.”

UN Deputy Secretary-General Hajia Amina J. Mohammed (center) heads out on a tour of IITA facilities, flanked by IITA DG Nteranya Sanginga (left) and DDG-P4D Kenton Dashiel (right).

At the exhibition, DG Sanginga said IITA is deliberate about including the innovation of climate-change-resistant agriculture through the ongoing research at the Genetic Resource Center (GRC). He also mentioned that the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) program aims to grow the agricultural sector, improve food security, and encourage inclusive growth by focusing on more women and youth involvement.

The group comprised Prof Adeshola Adepoju, Director General of Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN); Dr Rosemary Obike, Nigeria’s representative on the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation (WHO); Mohamed Yahya, Resident Representative to Nigeria for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Edward Kallon, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria; and Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General, Partnerships for Delivery; Hilde Koper, IITA Deputy Director General, Corporate Services; Prof Michael Abberton, Director, IITA West Africa; Katherine Lopez, IITA Head of Communications; and Toyin Oke, IITA Resource Mobilization.

The group also visited the IITA Forest Center. The IITA Forest Center manages and utilizes forest resources for conservation, research, education, and training within the 1000-ha IITA Ibadan campus, with the primary function of preserving wildlife and nature.

During the tour, Hajia Mohammed stated that one of the areas addressed during the Food Systems Summit was how the science space in countries could be strengthened. “There is quite a healthy one at the global level but not as productive as when each country comes together. I hope IITA can do something with about, as it is a different approach to how we address the food system, not just agriculture but to take the full environment,” she said.

Hajia Mohammed looking at a Forest Center exhibition of nursery plants used in their conservation activities.

IITA is open to sustainable partnerships with a track record of delivering on partnerships forged in the past. “The institute has the technology and research to deliver results that will change the narrative in the science and agricultural space in Africa with the right partnerships,” stated Dr Sanginga.

Commenting on the research innovations during the tour, “If we are going to achieve the SDGs, there is need to understand how, while considering the multiplier effects on jobs, gender, and nutrition. What we have seen here today is a good pathway that has been developed. So we would be very happy to have that conversation as a follow up to this meeting on the pathways and the food systems we want to try to achieve by 2030,” the UN Deputy Secretary-General said.

According to the UN Deputy Secretary-General, science is a big part of research capacity, and it has to be demand-driven. The mapping and data that IITA has and the available technology are crucial for agriculture and the food chain across Africa and the world.