…harps on robust engagement between govt., academia
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has made a strong case for strengthened partnership between the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, (IITA), and the state government to increase agribusiness investments in the state and revamp the state-run colleges of agriculture.
The governor said this at the International Workshop on Water-Energy-Food Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, held at the IITA International Conference Center, Ibadan, Oyo State, on Tuesday.
The workshop was organised by the IITA, University of Ibadan and the Pennsylvania State University.
The governor met with a delegation of the Pennsylvania State University, to discuss on how the state government can leverage the Water-Energy-Food Systems Nexus research for development of agricultural sector in the state.
In his address, Obaseki said that it is important to establish a strong nexus among research institutes like IITA, the academia and governments, in developing the agricultural sector to impact lives and grow economies.
Noting that the Edo State government is already prepared for a post-hydrocarbon economy with focus on developing agriculture in the state, he said, “A common ground is achieved when a workshop like this is held and governments are called upon to make input.”
Obaseki added: “I like the approach of this workshop, particularly how you dimensioned the issues. There is a session for government and institutional leaders to discuss concrete steps we need to take to move forward.
“I believe that we can address the challenge of water, energy and food through the concerted efforts of stakeholders.”
In a separate meeting with the Director General, IITA, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, Obaseki said his state is desirous of strong, lasting partnership with IITA to develop the agricultural sector, noting, “We want a very strong partnership with you to grow the agricultural sector. We have the land, but we need people with the expertise to bring their practical experience to bear in our efforts to reposition the sector.
“We have institutions like yours and want to partner with you; this is what you do, what you are here for.”
Declaring the state’s readiness to grow the partnership with IITA, the governor noted that the state government would like to develop not less than 50,000 hectares for crops production, which will be tied to off-takers in the state.
He added: “What we need now is an actionable plan to be developed with experts from the institute, with which we can stimulate growth and deepen agribusiness investment in the state.”
Dr. Sanginga said the institute is ready to partner with the state government on the plan, as IITA has developed similar plans for some state governments in the South West region as well as the Togolese government.
He described as inspiring the increased attention to agriculture, noting, “We are working with some state governments already on such a plan. One of them is doing 20,000 hectares of cassava. We are ready to partner with you and I will be leading a delegation to your office to agree on the modalities.
He continued, “We work on value-chain model. Take cassava for example. Before now, it used to be used only as garri. But today, it is an industrial crop. Pepsi and Coca-Cola managers have been here because they want to use cassava as sweetener in their products. There is starch, which is used by many other industries. So, there are a lot of people who are pushing for that value chain approach. There are a lot of benefits from it.”