Celebrating our Past and Positioning our Future: Foresight Dimension of IITA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

By Kwesi Atta-Krah


The year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of IITA. Established in 1967, IITA has carved for itself a distinct niche in the field of research for food and nutritional security in Africa and beyond. This 50th anniversary creates an opportunity to reflect on the past and showcase the success and contributions of IITA’s research-for-development work in the continent. It is also an occasion to celebrate the strong collaboration and cooperation with a host of partners, stakeholders, donors, and farmers. 

That however is not where the celebration ends. We aim to celebrate both our past as well as our future. The anniversary celebration is also seen as an occasion to share our thoughts about the future, and our thinking in relation to shaping the food and nutrition security agenda for the coming 50 years. It is for this reason, that as part of this Golden Jubilee celebration, IITA will be organizing a special Conference on 24 November 2017, focusing on the future food and nutrition security challenges for the coming half century. This is a topic of global foresight significance, especially in the light of unfolding climate change. The conference will seek to address biological, environmental, sociological and institutional dimensions, as influenced by population growth and climate change.

Today, as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary with our Media friends, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to share with you some thoughts relating to where we are heading as an institution into the next 50 years. I will address four key areas of work that would be significant for our operation into the next cycle.

1) A New Paradigm

We seek as we move into the future to strengthen our Centre of Excellence status in agricultural research, and to be the preferred and valued partner of African countries towards addressing the critical issues of agriculture in the context of national economic development. The era of research supporting farming simply as a way of life for subsistence of poor smallholder farmers must be brought to an end. As we move into the future we aim to work towards making agriculture a key engine for growth in national economies. In this regard, we would continue to advance and research the case of agriculture as a business at multiple levels, with special focus on the smallholder farmer.

Another dimension in this new paradigm will be to strengthen the foresight and futures dimension of agriculture research to address the challenges of Climate Change. Impacts from extreme climatic events such as floods and droughts are evident and easy to observe. However, indirect impacts, e.g. through increased pressure from biotic stresses are less visible and often pass unnoticed. Changes in temperature and humidity are the two most important climatic factors expected to affect development, reproduction and survival of agricultural pests and diseases. Under the current climate change scenario, this will lead to range expansion of native pests/diseases into new areas, as well as increased damage potential from invasive alien species. IITA intends to emphasize this area of research moving forward. The plan is to establish a regional hub in West and Central Africa, and establish a joint platform, bringing together researchers and practitioners working on biorisks coupled with climate change.

2) Transformation

A second key element in our research moving forward is the element of Transformation as a key goal for research. Our research must be done in such a way that it leads to real changes in the economies of nations and in the lives of people. This transformation agenda will require that we operate with our eyes set on development goals and outcomes aimed at bringing about significant change in situations.  This will require strengthened partnerships across the domains of research and linking research into delivery chains towards development. It is in this regard that IITA operates two key Directorates, Research for Development (R4D) and Partnerships for Delivery (P4D).

The R4D directorate covers various research projects in 4 key thematic areas (i) Biotechnology and Genetic Improvement, (ii) Natural Resources Management, (iii) Social Science and Agribusiness, and (iv) Plant Protection and Health.  While the P4D directorate covers our work in Business Development and Incubation, Youth Entrepreneurship program (Agripreneurs), Mechanization and Capacity Development. The R4D and P4D segments work together seamlessly across four regional Hubs of West and Central Africa, East Africa, Central Africa and Southern Africa.

A major development supporting the transformation paradigm is a new mega ($850 Million) project – Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), supported by the African Development Bank, in partnership with other donor organizations such as the World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and USAID. This is a program that is aimed at building on the products of research and ensuring that they reach the target ends in development and scaling in African countries.

3) Youth in Agriculture

Agriculture over the years has ended up being seen as a business for old people in rural areas, toiling with hoes and cutlasses and getting very little out of their efforts. As a result of this mentality and culture, the youth of today have not taken to agriculture as an employment or business option. This has to change. Youth in any society is the engine of growth and innovation and needs to be adequately mainstreamed and engaged in the core business of national development. Agriculture is no exception to this. Indeed, given the large role played by agriculture in the economic development of countries, it is even more important that youth are attracted back into agriculture as a business.

As we move into the future, we seek to deepen and strengthen the IITA Youth Agripreneur model as an instrument to create a new horizon for African youth into agriculture and agribusiness in the continent. The IITA model of youth incubation and business development in agriculture, has led to the emergence of a new initiative of the African Development Bank “ENABLE Youth” (Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment for Youth). To date over 31 countries have signed up with AfDB to be part of this program, which will have IITA as strategic and technical partner, and the IITA Youth Agripreneurs as technical experts through a “rolling cadre” approach to support countries in their set-up of the youth agripreneur programs. Our belief for the future is that Transformation will not occur in any country if the Youth are left out of the development process. The time for their involvement in leadership and innovation is now – moving forward!

4) Alignment to Countries

The fourth key goal moving forward is the goal of Alignment. We wish to strengthen the alignment of our research to country goals and strategic targets. IITA and other CGIAR Centers are required to do research that delivers on International Public Goods. This has been a key driver of our research and will continue to be important. However, to address issues of Transformation through agriculture research and development, there needs to be a strengthened country-based strategy and focus. Alignment will require integration of the different elements of research and development within the various countries.

The Goal is to achieve accelerated impact through strengthened integration and alignment of IITA Research and Delivery to country strategic goals and production targets. IITA research moving forward, will be influenced by targets defined and agreed by countries, with links to regional and global frameworks (e.g. CAADP, SDGs). Major IITA projects will be analyzed according to their outputs and contributions to the country goals and targets. This will include projects from R4D, as well as Mega P4D projects such as BIP, TAAT, ENABLE, in relation to achieving country and SDG2 targets in food and nutrition security, wealth creation and employment.


To be successful in the above areas of work, a number of enablers need to be in place. Let me highlight one of them – Communication!! The broader public needs to be better informed and engaged in the work that we do. There needs to be a better rapport with society, with governments, with communities and with stakeholders on the opportunities emerging through research. Feedback from these various levels would also be essential as input in the development of new research and delivery initiatives. We therefore need to establish better ways of engaging with the media as strategic partners in the business of Research and Delivery leading to Transformation. This needs to be seen as essential for both Research institutions and Media organizations.

In closing, let me say, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, that as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our institute, we are also celebrating what we believe is the way forward. We shall continue to develop these thoughts and ideas by engaging with our partners. We also seek a strengthened engagement with Media for their support in the framework of corporate social engagement (CSE) as we work together towards the transformation of agriculture for the transformation of Africa in the coming decades.

Thank you!!

Dr Kwesi Atta-Krah is the Chair of IITA@50 Anniversary celebration and the Director for Systems and Site Integration.


Arewa Youths’ Letter to Osinbajo

June, 19th 2017

His Excellency, 
Professor Yemi Osinbajo,

Acting President, 

Federal Republic of Nigeria, 

Aso Rock Presidential Villa


Your Excellency,


On behalf of this coalition and all the peace-loving people of Northern Nigeria, we begin this letter by commending your efforts towards finding a lasting solution to the lingering Igbo-induced crisis that is undoubtedly overheating the polity.

We sincerely believe Your Excellency’s good intentions as shown by your prompt and genuine actions towards ensuring peace and stability in holding talks with leaders of the North and the South-East.

Though we do not doubt Your Excellency’s bona fide concerns for the peaceful resolution of the crises, we nevertheless have reservations as to the efficacy of this approach in ensuring lasting solutions.

Our doubts are informed by the following historical antecedents that have characterized the behavior and conduct of the Igbo in Nigeria and previous efforts at containing them. 


1. The Igbo of Eastern Nigeria manifested their hatred for Nigeria’s unity barely five years after we gained our independence from the British when on January 15, 1966, their army officers carried out the first-ever  mutiny that marked the beginning of a series of crisis which has profoundly altered the course of Nigeria’s history.

 2.  By that ill motivated,  cowardly and deliberate action, the Igbo killed many northern officers from the rank of lieutenant colonel upwards and also decapitated the Prime Minister and the political leadership of the Northern and Western regions but left the zenith of Igbo leadership at the Federal level and the Eastern region intact.

3. In line with the Igbo plan, General Aguiyi-Ironsi took advantage of the vacuum and, instead of returning power to the remnants of the First Republic government, he appropriated the coup and attempted to consolidate it for his people. 

4.  Army officers of the Northern Region were eventually compelled to execute a counter coup on July 29, 1966 following a coordinated series of brazen provocations from the Igbo who taunted northerners on northern streets by mocking the way leaders of the region were slain by the Igbo. This unfortunately resulted in mob action which resulted in the death of many Igbos.

5.  And when Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, from the North took over as Head of State following the counter coup, the Igbo through Lt. Col. Ojukwu, characteristically refused to recognize Gowon.

5.  Ojukwu declared the secession of the Igbo people from Nigeria and the formation of the republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967 resulting in a civil war that led to the tragic deaths of more than 2 million Nigerians.

6. It is important to note here that the Igbo eventually capitulated and conceded defeat in an unconditional surrender, not an armistice,  on January 15, 1970 which renders any talk about Biafra at any other time,  a repudiation of the terms of that surrender signed by Phillip Effiong and other Biafran leaders.


1. In a shot out of the blues,  the Igbo have over the last 2 years regrouped and fiercely and openly started discussing Biafra again under Ralph Uwazuruike of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State Of Biafra MASSOB. 

2.  This was given greater impetus by a more furious Igbo rogue group called the Indigenous People Of Biafra IPOB under Nnamdi Kanu who even operates an illegal radio station spreading hate and war messages across the nation,  calling other ethnic groups all sorts of names and threatening them with violent extermination. (Ref:, and ). 

3.  The activities of the Igbo under Kanu’s IPOB has grown exponentially ranging from ordering people of other regions out of the South East – particularly the Yorubas and Hausa /Fulani from the South West and the North respectively, to open declaration of the amassing of arms and forceful total shutdown of the entire South-East. (Ref:

4. KANU and IPOB have declared full allegiance to a  “Republic of Biafra” and continue to preach hatred and war virtually every day, and not for once did any Igbo leader call them to order. Instead, many of the leaders including Mr Ike Ekweremadu,  the deputy senate president, the most senior elected Igbo, pay Kanu courtesy calls to prove that he is speaking for the entire Igbo. It is glaring to all that Kanu has serially breached all the terms of his stringent jail conditions in total disregard  to the sanctity of our justice system . 

5. Even the latest statement by the South-East Governors Forum signed by Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State in a response to the Northern reaction,  did not condemn Kanu and Uwazuruike but characterised their action as peaceful. Ref:

6. While all this is going on,  neither the Igbo political and cultural leaders nor other regional leaders of the North or West nor the international community or any religious body ever found it necessary to call these renegade groups to order or in the very least admonish their leaders to do so. 

Furthermore,  none of the Igbo leaders holding various positions in this government ever disowned IPOB or condemned its operations until lately with Governor Rochas Okorocha’s mild condemnation after the Kaduna Declaration by our Coalition .


Given the unrepentant antecedents exhibited by the Igbo as highlighted above,  we strongly believe that the gruesome picture that the Biafran agitation represents is beyond a few people showcasing to Your Excellency that the Igbo will eventually heed the call for peace and desist from their dangerous campaign against Nigeria. 

 The seed of hate planted in the name of Biafra is evidently so deep that the ongoing interaction between you and the leaders from the South East can not in our well informed opinion douse or address the underlying deep seated  underlying problems (Ref 

We base our concerns on the following grounds. 

1. Despite the fact that the Igbo have been the most accommodated and tolerated of all the ethnic groups of Nigeria, the renewed incessant, spiteful and vile threats and insults on Northern leaders and their people, culture and religions that are the targets of this venomous agitation for Biafra,  can hardly be addressed through a series of two hours dialogues.

2.  As if to prove this, barely hours after Your Excellency’s meeting with the South-East leaders,  the Biafran Igbo openly disowned the leaders and dissociated themselves from the meeting. (Ref:

3. More disturbingly,  Kanu has openly claimed that the Biafran agitators have amassed arms in readiness for a war of secession which is quite conceivable given the fact that since 2009, catches of dangerous weapons routinely smuggled into the country and occasionally intercepted  by the Nigerian authorities , were all traced to Igbo sources. (Ref:

4.  The situation continues to be baffling and alarming and therefore unacceptable  – especially with the Igbo political and opinion leaders openly legitimizing the violent comments, insults, threats, hate speeches and call to anarchy that the Biafrans led by Nnamdi Kanu are making against the North and the Nigerian state in general. 

5. South-East leaders have instead, enthusiatically given Kanu the platform, patronage and symbolic legitimacy through an ignominious display of homage, reception and open embrace. 


1. Concerned by the fact that the Biafrans have confessed to arming themselves for a violent breakup,  we feel that it is risky for the rest of the country particularly the North to go on pretending that it is safe for us to co habitate with the Igbos given how deeply they are entrenched in our societies .

2.  And since evidently the Igbo have not been sufficiently humbled by their self imposed bloody civil violence of 1966, we are strongly concerned that nothing short of granting their Biafran dream will suffice. 

3. And since the Igbo have virtually infiltrated every nook and cranny of Northern Nigeria where they have been received with open arms as fellow compatriots, we strongly believe that the region is no longer safe and secure in the light of the unfolding threats and the fact that for a long time,  the Igbo have gone to extra ordinary lengths to ensure that in their domain in the South East, Northerners and Westerners are as much as possible disenfranchised from owning any businesses whereas in Kano alone,  they own not less than 100, 000 shops across all the business districts. 

4.  That since the younger generation of Nigerians makes up for more than 60 percent of the nation’s population, it is our hope that they inherit this country in better shape so that they can build a much better future for themselves and their offsprings in an atmosphere that is devoid of anarchy, hate, suspicion and  negativity that characterize the polarized, and clearly irreconcilable differences forced on us by the Biafran Igbos. 

5. To make a bad situation even worse, their leaders have continued to show support for  this treacherous cause and thus giving credence to our concern that what they say against us is what they truly mean and intend – Kill everyone in the Zoo (North). Your Excellency, we cannot afford to discard this as mere mischief as the utterances that caused the terrible Rwandan genocide still resonates in our minds.

6. Lastly Sir, it is quite impossible to expect that other nationalities would simply stand by and watch while a certain ethnic group perpetrates all the above heinous misconducts that involve threats, call to violence and extermination, insults and songs of war without responding. 


While we unequivocally restate that we are not waging war or calling anyone to violence,  we nevertheless are also not willing to continue tolerating the malicious campaign and threats of war that the Igbos have continued to wage against us.  

Neither can we afford to continue giving the keys to our cities to a people whose utterances, plans and arrangements are clearly geared towards war and anarchy. 

We therefore demand that the only enduring solution to this scourge that is being visited on the nation is complete separation of the states presently agitating for Biafra from the Federal Republic of Nigeria through a peaceful political process by:

1.  Taking steps to facilitate the actualization of the Biafran nation in line with the principle of self-determination as an integral part of contemporary customary international law.

2. The principle of self-determination has, since world war II become a part of the United Nations Charter which states in Article 1(2), that one of the purposes of the UN is to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.

3. We submit that this protocol envisages that people of any nation have the right to self-determination, and although the Charter did not categorically impose direct legal obligations on member States; it implies that member States allow agitating or minority groups to self-govern as much as possible. 

4. This principle of self-determination has since been espoused in two additional treaties: The United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 1 of both international documents promote and protect the right of a people to self-determination. State parties to these international documents are obliged to uphold the primacy and realization of this right as it cements the international legal philosophy that gives a people the right to self-determination.

4. As the Igbo agitations persist and assume threatening dimensions, we submit that there is need to ensure that they are given the opportunity to exercise the right to self-determination as entrenched under the aforementioned international statutes to which Nigeria is a signatory.


1.  Aware that the right of self-determination in international law is the legal right for a people that allows them to attain a certain degree of autonomy from a sovereign state through a legitimate political process, we strongly demand for a referendum to take place in a politically sane atmosphere where all parties will have a democratic voice over their future and the future of the nation.

2. The Igbo from all over the country and in the Diaspora should be advised to converge in their region in the South-East for a plesbisite to be organized and conducted by the United Nations and other regional bodies for them to categorically to decide between remaining part of Nigeria or having their separate country.

3.  That government should at the end of the plesbite implement whatever  is agreed and resolved in order to finally put this matter to rest.

4.  Lastly, we pray His Excellency to study the references forwarded with this letter dispassionately and decide who is more in the wrong between those who openly pledge allegiance to a country other than Nigeria backing it up with persistent threats of war and those of us whose allegiance remains with the Nigerian state but simply urge that the secessionists be allowed to actualize their dream peacefully throw universally entrenched democratic options. 


Your Excellency, we want to reiterate our high respect for your office and acknowledge the efforts you are making to lower tensions. We assure you, as well-brought up northerners, we listen to the advise and cautions of our elders, and in particular, their concerns that we do not create the impression that any Igbo or any Nigerian will be harmed in the North. 

We assure you that we will defend the rights of every Nigerian to live in peace and have their rights protected.

While we do not see this clamour for Biafra as an issue over which a single drop of blood should be shed,  we at the same time,  insist that the Igbo be allowed to have their Biafra and for them to vacate our land peacefully so that our dear country Nigeria could finally enjoy lasting peace and stability. 

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


Amb. ShettimaYerima

Joshua Viashman

Aminu Adam

Abdul-Azeez Suleiman

Nastura Ashir Sharif


Sokoto farmers get groundnut improved varieties

Farmers in Sokoto were yesterday introduced to improved varieties of groundnut at a seed fair that took place in Tambuwal, Tambuwal ‎local government of the state.

Provided in collaboration with the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the SAMnuts 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 ‎improved varieties are resistant to aflatoxin and draught.

The Programme Manager of Sokoto Agricultural Development Project, (SADP), Abubakar Malami, represented by the Director of Agricultural Services, Malami Magaji said that the improved varieties would boost groundnut production.

“The improved varieties will boost production because it is resistant to aflatoxin and draught,” he said.

‎The Country Representative of Groundnut Upscaling of ICRISAT, Vabi Michael who was represented by its Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) officer, Ishaku Yohanna said that the seeds were developed by the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria for farmers.

‎According to him, “The improved varieties are expected to provide double yield in 90 days. And on groundnut value chain, it produces more and better leaves and oil.”

An agro-dealer and farmer, Bello Kaurare said that he planted one bag of the improved variety of the groundnut last year and harvested 24 bags. “I have tested this improved variety. I planted one bag last year and harvested 24 bags in 85 days. I noticed that the varieties are resistant to draught,” he said.

Also, Mrs. Asibi Aliyu ‎from Tangaza local government said at the seed fair that SAMnuts 24 and 25 yielded doubly for her, including more oil.

ICRISAT is upscaling groundnut in ‎Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi and Jigawa states and in Dange/Shuni, Bodinga, Shagari, Tangaza and Tambuwal local government areas of Sokoto state.


PRESS RELEASE: 50th Anniversary: IITA Inaugurates 205.5ha Research Farm

The Ago Owu research station is located in Ayedade Local Government Area, Osun state, and will primarily serve as a research and training facility that will backstop the state’s agricultural programs and offer training support to the youth

OSHOGBO, Nigeria, June 12, 2017/ — As the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) ( marks its 50th anniversary, the Institute today inaugurated a new research station in Ago-Owu in Osun state, Nigeria, as part of efforts to expand its research agenda and create impact at farm level.

The Ago-Owu research station is located in Ayedade Local Government Area, Osun state, and will primarily serve as a research and training facility that will backstop the state’s agricultural programs and offer training support to the youth in the area in particular and Nigeria in general.

In 2015, Governor Rauf Aregbesola donated a piece of land measuring about 205.5 hectares to IITA as he sought to bring research closer to the people of the state with a view to creating transformational change in the agricultural sector of the state. IITA accepted the offer with the signing of a memorandum of understanding and began investment on the land with the development of roads and other infrastructure.

Governor Aregbesola said he was glad the MoU with IITA moved beyond paper to implementation. He commended IITA for its research efforts in the last 50 years, adding that the research facility will advance research in Osun state with a spinoff effect on other parts of the country.

“We believe that this research facility will train and empower our youth in modern agriculture,” he said.

The inauguration of the research facility also allowed researchers to make presentations on new findings from cassava weed management, breeding, banana breeding and multiplication, cassava processing, and aflasafe—a technology for controlling aflatoxins among others. There was a presentation of improved seeds of maize, cowpea, soybean, yam, plantain seedlings, and cassava stems for onward distribution to farmers in Osun state. IITA also gave the governor some quantities of Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags which provide simple, low-cost method of reducing post-harvest cowpea losses due to insects’ infestations.

The Director General, IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga said, IITA was happy to work with and in Osun state.

“This research facility is part of our strategy to take research closer to the people. Our plan is to make this station a one-stop shop where farmers’ needs will be addressed,” he said.

Under the refreshed IITA strategy, IITA plans to lift 11 million people out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020 and to reclaim 7.5 million hectares of degraded land and put the land into sustainable use. Achieving this goal entails IITA expanding its partnership scope and strengthening old partnerships.

Dr Sanginga said the Ago-Owu research facility would primarily conduct research on cassava, maize, yam, soybean, banana/plantain and cowpea. “We will also be using the facility to train Nigerian youths in agribusiness,” he added.

The inauguration of Ago-Owo research station brings to six the number of such facilities in Nigeria. Others are located in Onne (Rivers State), Abuja, Mokwa (Niger state), Minjibir (Kano), and Ikene (Ogun State).

Dr Alfred Dixon, Director for Development and Delivery, IITA, said the inauguration of the research facility was a step in the right direction with the potential of bringing many benefits to the people of the state in particular, and the country in general.

He said the research facility would assist the state in accelerating its agricultural reform agenda whose particular focus is on increasing agricultural productivity and job creation.

Established in 1967, IITA is an international agricultural research institution that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation. Working with various partners across sub-Saharan Africa, IITA improves livelihoods, enhance food and nutrition security, increase employment, and preserve natural resource integrity. The Institute operates in Nigeria and 13 research stations/hubs across sub-Saharan Africa.

Distributed by APO on behalf of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).


Press Release: FG Distributes Special Relief Intervention in the North East

The Federal Government will distribute 30,000 metric tonnes (1,032 trucks) of cereal directly to affected persons in the Northeastern states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi and Gombe. The exercise is expected to be flagged off by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo on Thursday 8th June, 2017 in Maiduguri, Borno State.
This special relief intervention has the objective of highlighting the strategies that would be adopted for distribution of relief materials approved by the federal government for displaced persons in the North East in accordance with the humanitarian principles.

It will also serves as litmus test for full cycle of intervention adapting world best practices while considering our own local peculiarities, exhibiting the best of transparency, accountability and in full consideration of the protection and integrity of the affected persons.

Each household beneficiary would be issued with a voucher, which is redeemed at the receipt of the household allocation of the food basket. It also involves taking the materials to the doorsteps of the affected persons.

The distribution, which is based on Dry ration calculations of 6 persons per household and food ration per individual for 30days at 280grams x30/1000k = 8.4 kg times individual requirement per household, is 50.4 kg.

Relief intervention will be also airlifted for areas that have inaccessible roads or security threat by the Nigeria Air force.

The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency, Engr. Mustapha Maihaja said adequate measures have been put in place to ensure that the distribution was done in transparent manners for optimal accomplishment of task and operational objectives.

Sani Datti

Head, Media and Public Relations

7th June 2017​