By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga has disclosed that research outputs by the Institute and its national partners are helping farmers to come out of poverty, creating jobs and demonstrating the possibility of having a prosperous African continent.
Dr Nteranya Sanginga said this on Wednesday while addressing stakeholders at the Food Security Future Summit held at the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta.
According to the IITA DG “what is needed in Africa is the political and collective will to act.”, saying, Africa could achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (especially goal number 2 also known as Zero Hunger) by 2030 if governments on the Continent made a departure from mere rhetoric to taking action.
Dr Nteranya maintained that looking at global trends, by 2050, Africa’s population will double, adding, “what that means is that we will have to feed more people.”
” We will need more jobs for our youths. We will need more land, water, etc to produce food. Clearly, if we continue with a business as usual approach, we will be in trouble,” he said.
Speaking on the disturbing trends of youth unemployment in Africa, the IITA Director General said in Nigeria, between 2001 and 2010; 22 million young people entered the labour market in search for jobs, saying, “some of these young people end up without decent jobs”.
“In spite of our arable land, majority of African farmers are poor—most of them living on less than two dollars a day. Again malnutrition is widespread. So, we need to act and change this narrative!”
He however pointed out that there was a ray of hope for the continent and he cited some of the achievements made by IITA which culminated in the winning of the Africa Food Prize as a centre for research excellence, and that the youth program at IITA, that is providing decent jobs for young people in agriculture, was a model that African nations could embrace and replicate to solve youth unemployment on the continent.
Dr Nteranya added that some of the breakthroughs if scaled out could lift Africa out of poverty and bring the continent on the path of prosperity. These include IITA improved varieties of cassava, maize, soybean, yam, banana/plantain, and cowpea that are resistant to pest and diseases, and high yielding.
“Besides, we also have several other initiatives/projects that have demonstrated how countries can transform agriculture. For instance, the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project clearly demonstrates the possibility of doubling cassava yield from the current national average of 10 tons/ha to more than 20 tons per ha,”.