Ibadan, Nigeria - Gabon will be tapping the experience and expertise of Nigeria and IITA to build up its local cassava industry, according to a top Gabonese diplomatic official. "The Nigerian government has agreed to assist us by providing planting materials and information on cassava production, among others. This is important as Nigeria has had far-reaching successes on cassava and is the world's top producer of the crop. We want to draw from their experience."
"We also see IITA as a vital partner especially in helping build the capacity of our scientists, providing us technical support and advice, as well as giving us improved planting materials not only of cassava but also of other food and cash crops,” Mr Francois Eboumi, Gabon's Ambassador to Morocco and Special Adviser to the President of that country, said during a visit to the Institute's Headquarters in Ibadan on Tuesday, 27 January.
Beyond just acquiring planting materials, Eboumi emphasized that his country will focus on strengthening local capacity, ultimately developing the skills necessary to improve the cassava industry on its own. This, he says, could be catalyzed with the assistance of IITA. “We are not only asking to be given fish, we also want you to teach us how to fish,” says Eboumi, citing an old Chinese adage as he sought collaboration with the Institute.
In response, Deputy Director General for R4D Support, Dr Lakshmi Menon, pledged the Institute’s support to help Gabon realize its food security goals, saying that the country's request for assistance and partnership is "appropriate and in line with our mission and vision". She commended the Gabonese government for taking the initiative for partnership, saying that in the long-run the benefits of this relationship would trickle down to the country’s farmers - increasing incomes, enhancing food security and improving livelihoods.
“It’s a good starting point having the [Gabonese] government’s interest in an organization like us that can easily draw on national and international partners for assistance,” adds Dr Dave Watson, Director of Project Development and Management, IITA.
Like in most other West African nations, cassava is a major source of food and income for the majority of the people in Gabon. Eboumi said that the assistance to be provided by Nigeria and IITA would boost local production to keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for cassava in the country, which, in some cases, had to import to fill the gap in supply.
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Africa has complex problems that plague agriculture and people's lives. We develop agricultural solutions with our partners to tackle hunger and poverty. Our award winning research for development (R4D) is based on focused, authoritative thinking anchored on the development needs of sub-Saharan Africa. We work with partners in Africa and beyond to reduce producer and consumer risks, enhance crop quality and productivity, and generate wealth from agriculture. IITA is an international non-profit R4D organization since 1967, governed by a Board of Trustees, and supported primarily by the CGIAR.