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Gowon, Obasanjo, Adesina, others to grace IITA’s 50th anniversary celebration

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Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, and his deputy, Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori, at the official opening of IITA Research and Training Farm, during Osun Farmers Open Day 2017, taged: Odun Alagbinla, at Ago-Owu, Osun State.

Two former heads of state, Dr Yakubu Gowon and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo top the list of dignitaries expected to grace the 50th anniversary celebration of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA@50) on July 24, in Ibadan, Oyo State.

The two former leaders will be addressing a gathering of more than 1,000 staff, including former and serving workers of the Institute and other dignitaries. According to a statement made available to The Guardian, other confirmed participants include- President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akin Adesina; former President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dr Kanayo Nwanze; President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Chair of United Bank for Africa, Tony Elumelu; Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Burundi, Dr Deo-Guide Rurema; former Prime Minister, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mapon Matata Mpoyo; IITA Alumni Representative, Mrs. Ayoka Lawani; Associate Vice President, IFAD, Dr. Perin Ange; the Representative of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Abuja, Dr. Audu Grema; Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof. Abel Olayinka; and Oyo State Governor, Senator Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi.

Chair of the Planning Committee, Dr. Kwesi Atta-Krah described the event as a significant forum that would afford the Institute opportunity to take a step back and reflect on its achievements, the challenges, and plans for the future.

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“Established in 1967 through partnership of Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation of the United States, IITA is today the biggest international research institute on the continent of Africa working on Africa’s major staple crops such as cassava, maize, cowpea, yam, soybean and banana/plantain. The goal of the Institute is to increase the productivity of Africa’s key staples, create wealth, and sustainable jobs with a view to achieving zero hunger.”

Meanwhile, the Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in collaboration with IITA has launched a research and training farm institute at Ago Owu area in Ayedaade Local Government Area of the state, as part of his administration’s commitment to transform agricultural sector.

Agebesola, who disclosed that the state had released 205.5 hectares of land for the take-off of the programme, attributed the success of the scheme to unflinching support, which the state received from the officials of the IITA.

While describing the institute as a “citadel of knowledge in agriculture,” the governor said with the establishment, all challenges confronting farming and farmers would be put behind.

He said the institution has the capacity to train, retrain and conduct various researches that would not only increase farmers’ yields but also expose them to modern agriculture practices.

Aregbesola said the idea was nurtured in a bid to support the existing farmers and encourage young ones into farming, saying with the scheme, a new era has begun in the sector in the state.

He noted that the scheme was part of his administration’s six-point integral action plan to increase agricultural produce, improve the welfare of farmers and turn Osun to food basket of the southwest Nigeria.

According to him, the idea behind the establishment of the institute is to advance research in agriculture sector in line with the state’s commitment to agribusiness and commercialisation.

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“We must thank the IITA for the partnership we have because with the establishment of this training institute, our partnership is not just a memorandum on paper, rather a memorandum actualised.

“IITA has been an open partner with Osun government and the partnership was formalised in 2015 after a Memorandum of Understanding was mutually signed to support agriculture sector in the state.

In his welcome address, the Director General, Office of Economic Development and Partnerships and Coordinator, Osun Rural Entreprise and Agriculture Programme, Dr. Charles Akinola, said the initiative was to bring technology closer to the farmers in all aspects of agricultural production.

According to him, “we are doing this to have huge production yields. It is hoped that with this, Osun farmers will begin to count gains, as agriculture would be commercialised, while our state would become training centre for her peers in agriculture sector.”


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