The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) says it will continue to work with governments in sub-Saharan Africa to facilitate food security in the continent.
The assurance is coming as the global food systems are facing a major challenge with the outbreak of COVID-19. It has, therefore, become imperative for countries to achieve a measure of self-sufficiency in their food production.
IITA R4D Director for Central Africa, Bernard Vanlauwa, has spoken of multiple initiatives being discussed across all the Institute hubs.
He notes that there are at least 50 ongoing conversations with governments, donors, and partners. If actualised, these will benefit the countries involved and, if only 30% of these come to fruition, IITA will be able to continue its work unhindered even through these trying times.
Vanlauwe says, “almost every single organization that operates in Africa is now developing COVID-19 response strategies but which organization dealing with smallholder agriculture is better placed than IITA to move beyond talking and writing to putting responses into action?”
While adhering to safety and security guidelines, IITA has continued to engage in research activities in countries where this is still possible.
Examples of accomplishments during this time include the planting of over 870 ha of secondary cassava multiplication gardens in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
“In Burundi, we have finished installing two specialised cassava flour (with flash dryer) processing units, four standard cassava flour processing units, 12 cassava collection centres, two banana flour and chip processing units.
‘’Others are five vegetable collection/processing units, three fruit (pineapple, passion, tamarillo) processing units, five milk processing units, three milk buying points, two milk sales points, and 13 standard nurseries with propagator and screenhouse.”