The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA has named its Kalambo Station, located in South-Kivu Province, in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, “The President Olusegun Obasanjo Research Campus.”
A statement from the IITA said that the naming ceremony and launching of a biotechnology laboratory would be officiated by His Excellency, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, Mr. Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo.
The former Nigerian President earned this honour through his efforts to boost the agriculture sector in Africa and the DRC in particular, as well as his sustained support to IITA, in garnering technical and financial partners for the Institute.
The statement says, “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.”
The statement says a new building that houses, among other facilities, a state-of-the-art biotechnology laboratory, the second of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, would also be commissioned.
The top-class tissue culture laboratory 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 laboratory 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 soil microbiology unit and molecular lab, a product and processing unit, and training facilities.
It serves neighboring countries in the region including Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, and Uganda.
Expected personalities to grace the occasion include Rwandan President Paul Kagame, former DR Congo President Joseph Kabila, and former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, 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.
IITA Director General, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga noted that, “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.”