IITA to raise research quality and build more partnerships—Sanginga
Increasing research quality, building partnerships, and enhancing capacities to generate impact at the farm level will form the major agenda of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in the years ahead, according to Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, IITA's new Director General.
The new focus is aimed at confronting the emerging challenges to food security and livelihoods in tropical countries including climate change and the degradation in soils and other natural resources.
“Equally important is IITA's internal organization,” says Sanginga during a welcome address to staff.
According to him, improving the quality of research on a continuous basis will enable the institute to retain and maintain its position as the top agricultural research-for-development (R4D) organization in Africa.
“This is imperative,” he says.
In its 44 years of existence, IITA led research on the control of cassava mealybug (a cassava pest) that generated benefits worth between $15.6 and $27.8 billion based on 2004 estimates.
The institute has, over the years, developed several improved varieties of cowpea, banana and plantain, cassava, yam, soybean, and maize.
These varieties are transforming the lives of farmers, enhancing wealth and guaranteeing food security especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
Currently about 60% of the maize grown in West and Central Africa comes from IITA varieties.
Sanginga emphasized the importance of partnerships and the need to help build the capacity of partners. He noted that the growing interdependence with partners was crucial in carrying out the institute's mission and vision of eradicating hunger and poverty.
Prior to this appointment, Sanginga who is now the seventh IITA director general, was the director of the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute of the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (TSBF-CIAT) based in Nairobi, Kenya. He has more than 21 years of experience in the field of agricultural research and development, particularly in applied microbial ecology, plant nutrition, and integrated natural resources management in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Sanginga had worked for IITA for 14 years from 1989 to 2002. He also did his postgraduate training at IITA.
He holds a PhD in Agronomy/Soil Biology from a joint program between IITA and the Institut Facultaire des Sciences Agronomiques, Yangambi, DR Congo. He studied at Licence Speciale en Sciences Biologiques, Universite Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium and obtained Ingenieur Agronome at the Faculty of Agriculture, Yangambi, DR Congo.
According to Bryan Harvey, Chair of the IITA's Board of Trustees, Sanginga “was selected from an outstanding group of candidates. His achievements in reinvigorating TSBF-CIAT, as well as his extensive experience in tropical agriculture, make him an ideal choice to take on the much broader task of guiding IITA into the next decade.”