As part of a new initiative to ensure that research impacts society, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) is currently exploring a partnership with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
A three-member delegation from TETFund Standing Committee on Research and Development Agriculture visited IITA in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital recently for that purpose.
The team set out to find existing programmes delivering on research for development in the agricultural sector and looked forward to building partnerships with IITA to achieve the Committee’s role.
Deputy Coordinator of the TETFund Agricultural thematic group, Prof Charles Aworh, said Nigeria devotes less than 0.1% of its GDP to research generally, which is way too low to fund research for development.
He says there is need for a National Research Foundation enacted by law that will not be subject to government change. Recognising IITA’s impact on developing research outputs for development, it was only logical that their mission led them to IITA.
IITA Deputy Director General, Partnerships for Delivery, Kenton Dashiell, and the Director Advocacy and Country Alignment Function Kwesi Atta-Krah, received the TETFund team along with the Director for Development and Delivery, Alfred Dixon.
The group visited IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA), Aflasafe under the Business Incubation Platform (BIP), YIIFSWA hydroponics, and Genetic Resources Center (GRC) to learn about relevant resources.
The Institute’s research and delivery programmes excited the delegates, especially the IYA’s gains and successes so far. They commended the Aflasafe innovation and its reach in solving aflatoxin issues in crops, and the yam hydroponics for addressing yam seed problems.
Aworh said IYA had targeted the main constraint to agricultural development, which is the impression that agriculture is for the old and uneducated. He commended the leadership of IITA for bringing on IYA because engaging and training our youth is one of the best ways to steer our nation’s economy. The visitors agreed that all their visit points agree with the Committee’s goal.
Dashiell and Atta-Krah assured the delegates that IITA is open to partnerships and collaboration to drive research for sustainable development, especially those involving universities, industries, the government, and research institutes.
They assured the team that donors know IITA to deliver and that the Institute has stayed true to this reputation over the years. “IITA will be very keen to partner with TETFund as a whole, especially with regards to working with the Federal and State governments in delivering technological innovations on agriculture to the nation”, Dashiell said.
The delegates said they look forward to partnerships and collaborations with IITA in running a National Research Foundation, which is one of the outputs the Committee seeks to deliver.
The visit was to explore technology transfer mechanisms and strategies and IITA activities that involve engineering and mechanisation to ensure that research impacts society through agricultural transformation.
TETFund aims to identify available knowledge and research activities to provide R&D solutions to all aspects of the Nigerian economy. As part of establishing an R&D foundation by partnering with research institutes, the tertiary education sector, private sector, government, and development partners, the engineering team visited IITA.
“TETFund aims to not only fund research but also innovation so that our research can go beyond the shelf”, says Chairman of the TETFund National Research Fund, Prof Olufemi Bamiro,.
While welcoming the group, Atta-Krah, introduced the activities of IITA. The group toured IITA engineering facilities to assist in identifying the areas of their interest for partnership.
Visiting the Facility Management Service (FMS) and farm equipment office, IITA Fabrication Consultant, Thierno Diallo, and IITA Postharvest Specialist, Peter Kolawale, showcased various machines in the fabrication section and the mobile cassava processing plant.
The group also visited the cassava processing unit where the cassava bread bakery is located. Finally, they toured the Aflasafe facility, a section of the IITA Business Incubation Platform (BIP). BIP General Technical Manager, Lawrence Kaptoge, and IITA Plant Pathologist, Alejandro Ortega-Beltran, showcased the Aflasafe product and equipment used for production.
At the end of the tour, the visiting group commended IITA’s technologies and environment. Prof Bamiro said, “We are really impressed with the technologies, and we see that IITA can be a major player in our project.”
Chairman of the visiting TETFund Standing Committee Research &Development on Engineering, Prof Danladi Matawal, also stated that the model of IITA is worthy of emulation. “Thanks to IITA for maintaining an environment that is conducive for, and supports research,” he added.
Concluding the visit, Atta-Krah appreciated the team for visiting and stated how pleased IITA is with the group. “We look forward to updates of the decision your team would make from this visit, and feedback for the next steps. You can count on IITA for partnership in this area,” he said.