…as IITA presents agricultural policy framework
By Bode Akinbode, Ibadan
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has identified lack of will to implement policies as the major problem of the country and not policy formulation.
Obasanjo made the observation in Ibadan on Saturday, as he and Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State commissioned two key projects at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan, an Agricultural Transformation Building dedicated to research and delivery of innovations to farmers across Nigeria in particular and Africa in general, and a 10.5Km ring road in Africa’s biggest international agricultural research center.
The construction of the building commenced in 2017 with a foundation laying ceremony officiated by former Nigerian heads of government, General Yakubu Gowon, and Chief Obasanjo; and the African Development Bank President, Dr Akin Adesina as part of projects initiated to mark the 50th anniversary of IITA.
The building, which was funded by the African Development Bank through a Nigerian project— Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program (ATASP), comprises twenty-two offices, eight large laboratory spaces, a conference room and a utility facility.
The 10.5Km road on the other hand covers part of the perimeter fence of the 1000-hectare campus of IITA, constructed by Oyo State Government as part of efforts to support agricultural research under Governor Ajimobi’s administration.
Obasanjo further noted that the country has made several policies in the time past, which he said did not see the light of the day, owing to what he called, lack of implementation policy.
“Our problem is not policy formulation but implementation,” he said.
Obasanjo, however, tasked Governor Ajimobi, IITA and NISER to work towards ensuring that recommendations in the Policy Framework on agriculture were implemented by the incoming administration in the state.
He commended the governor for supporting IITA, while calling for the extension of innovations generated from research stations to farmers.
Obasanjo noted that there was a gap between research institutions and the ordinary smallholder farmers, adding that: “And we need to close that gap to bring about agricultural transformation.”
In his remark, Governor Ajimobi said the support given to IITA was in realization of the importance of agriculture to Oyo State, acknowledging the contributions of the institution to agricultural development in the state.
“Today Oyo state is the best place to invest and promote agriculture because we have IITA located in the state,” he said.
Earlier in his address, IITA Director-General, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, said the rejuvenation of IITA facility in Nigeria was crucial for the institute’s sustained efforts to transform agriculture on the continent.
“We are excited to see a state in Nigeria showing the example by supporting infrastructure in an international agricultural research center. This is not common, and we commend the government and people of Oyo State,” he said.
Dr Sanginga also commended the government of Nigeria and the AfDB for their support towards the construction of the building, adding that it would accelerate the pace of research and accommodate the best/critical human and material resource needed to bring transformation to the agricultural sector.
The event also witnessed the presentation of the Oyo State Agricultural Transformation Policy Framework.