The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, has solicited the support of the media in showcasing efforts made at reducing hunger in Africa through its Zero Hunger initiative.
Dr Kenton Dashiell, the institute’s Deputy Director General for partnerships for Delivery, made the plea for media support at the IITA Media Day held in Ibadan.
The day was organised to provide the media opportunity to learn firsthand about IITA’s efforts in addressing Africa’s pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
Dashiell said that in the last 50 years, IITA had conducted a lot of research with the intention of making small farmers to become large scale operators.
According to him, findings indicate that majority of farmers plant crops which are not pest and disease resistant and this affects the level of yield.
Dashiell said the institute had been able to develop varieties of crops that are pest and disease resistant, noting that this had helped boost yield.
“We want to see a revolution in Nigeria where farmers can easily send their children to school. IITA has decided to partner with the media because this research cannot get to the farmers without someone like the media marketing it to the farmers. Agriculture is a way to be become wealthy and the media is needed to communicate the message and look for creative way of bringing the message to Nigerians. IITA has trained a lot of graduate youths on agriculture and they are now self employed and employing others,’’ he said.
Also contributing, Dr Kwesi Atta-Krah, the Director, System and Site Integration, said that over 60 per cent of IITA cassava varieties were in the rural areas.
He, however, said this was not enough as agriculture must play a critical role in national development.
IITA is committed to improving the productivity of major Africa’s staples like cassava, yam, maize, banana and plantain, cowpea and soya beans.
Highlights of the media day included a tour of IITA genetic event centre, cassava breeding unit as well as fishery pond.