IITA assembles world-class scientists to tackle food security issues in Africa

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, on Friday assembled world-class scientists to proffer solutions to the challenges facing food security and nutrition in Africa.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the conference was part of the activities lined up to mark the IITA’s 50th anniversary.

The theme of the programme is “Towards Food and Nutrition Security for the Next Half Century: Challenges, Opportunities and Strategies.’’

Dr Bruce Campbell, a scientist from Denmark, said that efforts to develop agriculture in Africa should entail the adoption of a comprehensive approach which comprised a number of closely linked elements.

Campbell is the Director, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Denmark.

He said that the contribution of the private sector to the development of agriculture in Africa was crucial.

He stressed that with continuing urbanisation, wealthier populations and changing consumer demands, the food and agriculture sector would be more dynamic with the involvement of the private sector.

Besides, Dr Ousmane Badiane, Director for Africa, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in the U.S., said that high costs of services and limited infrastructure had posed serious obstacles to enterprise growth in Africa.

He said that for instance, poor transport infrastructure limited the ability of firms to obtain sufficient raw inputs for processing, while unreliable electricity supply increased their costs significantly.

Badiane said that increased investments in transport infrastructure and power supply would clearly be required to lessen the challenges facing agro-processors.

Also, Dr Emile Frison, a member of International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), underscored the need for governments to implement measures that would enable farms to diversify into agro-ecology.

He urged African governments to support the young people’s efforts to go into farming and adopt agro-ecological agriculture before they were locked into the cycles of industrial agriculture.

“More attention should also be paid to the role of informal markets, while policy measures must be put in place to empower emerging initiatives linking farmers to consumers,” he said.

NAN reports that highlights of the event, which was chaired by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, include field visits to the research and delivery facilities of IITA. (NAN)

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Written by Tom Chiahemen

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