LAGOSPremier Agribusiness Academy (PAA), has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on farmers capacity building so as to boost food security in the country.
Francis Toromade, Director General of the Academy, while speaking during the signing at the IITA headquarters in Ibadan, said that the purpose of the agreement is to increase human capacity development through good and most impactful agricultural practice in the areas of maize, cowpea, soybean, yam and cassava cultivation.
He blamed the low yield per hectare of soybean in Nigeria on lack of knowledge and technical ability of farmers, stressing South Africa generates 1.97 tons of soybean per hectare while Nigeria generates 0.97 tons per hectare with the same size and quality of land.
Toromade added that what the Academy is trying to do with the collaboration is to bridge the gap between the farmer, the private sector and the quality research done in IITA.
He added that, if the gap is bridged and farmers as well as other stakeholders put into practice the cutting-edge research findings of IITA, yield will increase and farming will become more profitable and attractive in Nigeria.
“Some stakeholders within the agricultural industry are not aware of what IITA is doing in terms of research and how it can impact their farming practice.
“What PAA will do as part of this partnership is to make sure that all the commodities and crops that are the focus of research in IITA like cassava, maize, soybean, yam among others get private sector awareness and patronage,” he said.
Dr. Kenton Dashiell, Deputy Director General-Partnership for Delivery, IITA said with the MoU, IITA and PAA has agreed to exchange information in areas of human capacity development on the most impactful practices (MIP) on IITA’s core mandate crops that will impact private sector stakeholders in the agricultural value chain and farmers in Nigeria thereby bringing about higher produce, farmer profitability and ultimately food security in Nigeria.
While explaining the purpose of the collaboration Ayooluwa Okediji, an Information Technology (IT) Consultant with PAA explained that the collaboration is aimed at driving productivity and profitability in agribusiness by leveraging digital technologies and other innovative solutions to aid proper dissemination and transfer of IITA’s research results into effective policy and practice across the agri-food value chain.
According to him, the MoU will leverage on the technical strengths of both parties for the development of agribusiness and farmer profitability in Nigeria, adding that, while IITA is known for quality research in agriculture, PAA is renowned for its private sector agribusiness capacity building projects.
Okediji further explained that, while IITA carries out quality research with ground breaking agricultural discoveries, its research output need to be properly disseminated to the private sector stakeholders and local farmers for practice notwithstanding commendable efforts by the IITA Business Incubation platform, designed to ensure that results from research is transferred into practice by end users.
He added that, with this IITA/PAA collaboration, more stakeholders within the agribusiness value chain can be reached and empowered through access to research results that are domiciled with IITA which can improve farmers’ livelihood.
“In other words, the MoU will help PAA support what IITA is presently doing in terms of capacity building and extension to extend research results. This is one of the core values that PAA is bringing into the partnership” he said.
Frederick Schreurs, CEO, IITA Business Incubation Platform further explains IITA BIP’s founding objectives to stimulate product development, and provide expertise and training in commercial agriculture and farm management, and opportunities for market expansion, which involves identifying pioneering technologies, developing partnership agreements to leverage their potential, refining them into products, test-marketing these products, training partners in manufacturing and marketing.