By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
The Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga on Thursday disclosed that a collaboration between IITA and Sudan will put smiles on the faces of farmers in Sudan.
Dr Sanginga stated this in an address to a presidential delegation from Sudan, that visited IITA to familiarize, exchange ideas, and explore areas for collaboration with IITA on cassava transformation.
According to the IITA Director General, the Institute is ” ready to expand into Sudan with a strengthened diversified portfolio to contribute to improved livelihood and income for small-scale farmers in the country.”
Leader of the 6-person delegation, Professor Ahmed Mohamed Suliman, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Khartoum, while speaking hinted that Sudan desired to become a cassava growing nation for the sole purpose of converting the root crop to cassava flour that would replace wheat in baking.
Professor Suliman stressed that Khartoum plans to replicate the cassava bread model in Nigeria that was developed by IITA and partners, adding that when implemented, Sudan will be able to fill the wheat shortfall that is currently being experienced.
“Our Presidency is very much interested in supporting the inclusion of High Quality Cassava Flour in bread and other forms of confectioneries as part of efforts to improve food security and the livelihoods of farmers in the country. On that note, I would initiate an immediate development of a MoU with IITA to serve as a guide to common interest between the two institutions,” he said
Head, Department of Agricultural Biotechnology, University of Khartoum , Dr Abuelgasim Elzein, in his remark said that even though the Republic of Sudan was not a cassava producing country, as soon as the cassava breeding program is replicated into our farming system, agriculture will take a new dimension.
Other members of the delegation were Dr Elhadi Ali Ibrahim Elkhalil, Prof Awadalla Abdalla Abdelmula, Dr Abdalla Ibrahim Yousif, and Hala Ahmed Elamin.
Dr Alfred Dixon, IITA Director for Development & Delivery noted that cassava as the third-largest crop in the tropics, is a major staple food in sub-Saharan Africa, providing a basic staple for over half a billion people.
He added that Khartoum’s interest in cassava was a decision in the right direction as cassava is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils.
Dr Dixon added that with the help of cassava experts from IITA, good agronomic and weed management practices, “Sudan in no distant time will be known for cassava production.”
The visit of the delegation culminated in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).