The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Kalambo Station – located in South-Kivu Province, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo – will be named “The President Olusegun Obasanjo Research Campus” by His Excellency the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mr Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo.
The efforts of this former Nigeria Head of State, HE Olusegun Obasanjo, to boost the agriculture sector in sub-Saharan Africa in general, and DRC in particular, as well as his sustained support to IITA, in garnering technical and financial partners for IITA earned him this honour. Pres. Obasanjo is spearheading the Zero Hunger initiative and has contributed to agricultural research not only in Nigeria but also in Africa. Because of this, the IITA Board of Trustees has decided to name the research station after him.
During this event, the Station will also commission a new building that houses, among other facilities, a state-of-the-art biotechnology laboratory – the second of the kind in sub-Saharan Africa. This top-class tissue culture lab is intended to multiply clean and disease-free planting materials of cassava, banana, yam, cocoa, and potato—important African food and economic crops. The first tissue culture lab was commissioned during IITA’s 50th anniversary in 2017 by Presidents Yakubu Gowon and Obasanjo, and African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina.
The station, which has been working in DRC since 1974, offers modern research facilities for impact-focused agricultural research for development. It includes a soil and plant analytical laboratory, a sol microbiology unit and molecular lab, a product and processing unit, and training facilities. It serves neighbouring countries in the region including Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, and Uganda.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, former DR Congo President Joseph Kabila, and former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will also grace the occasion along with Former DR Congo Prime Minister Augustin Matata Mponyo and former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Other key guests include Dr Adesina of AfDB and the World Bank President’s representative Dr Omar Lyasse.
As a member of CGIAR, a global partnership for a food-secure future, IITA operates in DRC to ensure food and nutritional security as well as the sound management of natural resources with support from numerous financial and technical partners involved in the agricultural sector to promote income-generating activities.
According to IITA Director General, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, “This science facility in DR Congo will be dedicated to IITA and partners’ mission of fighting hunger and poverty in the continent and will contribute towards boosting agricultural productivity and building the research and development capacity in DR Congo and the region.”