African nations urged to invest more in agric research
Monday, 09 July 2012
Former Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on African countries to invest more in agricultural research by supporting the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), based in Nigeria's South-west city of Ibadan, to tap into the opportunities offered by the vast arable land in the continent.
An IITA statement made available to PANA in Lagos quoted the former Nigerian leader as saying for Africa to maximise its full potential, the governments on the continent must support institutions such as the IITA to acquire the technology and knowledge needed to create wealth.
"This is an important institution for us in Nigeria and Africa and we need to support it. The point is that the tools used 45 years ago are likely to be obsolete, unless we rejuvenate," Obasanjo said during the event organised to mark the 45th anniversary of the biggest international agricultural research centre in the continent.
Food insecurity and poverty remain some of the major challenges confronting Africa. Close to ten years after the Maputo declaration of allocating at least 10% of national budget to agriculture, less than 20 of the 54 countries have met their pledge.
Obasanjo said Africa needed to think about the next generation, especially in view of the continent's growing population.
IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga was quoted in the statement as saying that rejuvenating the institution would benefit Nigeria in particular and Africa in general.
He said the battle of tomorrow would be food and water, explaining that IITA is well positioned to offer technologies that would improve agricultural productivity and create wealth.
Of the 60 percent arable land on the continent, only 33 percent has been cultivated.
Sanginga emphasised that investment in research for development was the only way forward for Africa.