French Ambassador cites research quality of IITA
The French Ambassador to Benin, Her Excellency Véronique Brumeaux, visited the IITA-Benin station on 20 June. She was accompanied by the Benin Representative of the French Research Institute for Development (Institut de recherche pour le développement [IRD]), Florent Engelmann, who organized the visit, the communication attaché to the Embassy, Bouchra Idri; and that of IRD, Rita Saudegbée.
The visit started with a short briefing by the IITA-Benin Country representative, Manuele Tamò, who gave a general overview of IITA and presented the specific activities and purview of the Benin station. This includes the new Biorisk Management Facility (BIMAF) platform and the Clearinghouse of TAAT, along with sister institutions Bioversity International, World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), Access Agriculture, the AfricaRice/GIZ Green Innovation Center, and East-West Seed.
The delegation toured the IITA station facilities, stopping at Bioversity International where they were given a practical demonstration on how remote sensing using drones can be adapted to detect abiotic and biotic stresses in banana and plantain. Mathilde Savy, a nutritionist seconded by IRD to Bioversity International, explained the holistic approach of improving diets of women and children using underutilized local crops.
At the IITA-Benin Biodiversity Center, Entomologist and Biocontrol Specialist Georg Goergen presented IITA’s impressive arthropod collection and highlighted the need for increased biodiversity studies for early interception of new invasive species as was the case for the fall armyworm, which was detected for the first time by IITA.
Visiting scientist Ghislain Tepa-Yotto introduced the BIMAF platform, showing the insect rearing facilities where the fall armyworm and its natural enemies are presently reared under strict hygienic conditions.
IITA Molecular Entomologist Djouaka Rousseau led the delegation on a tour of the Agro-Eco-Health platform, focusing on the recently established Aquaponics-based Insect Network and gave a tour of the pilot aquaponics platform.
The delegation also met with staff of the Green Innovation Center, where Bruno Tran of the AfricaRice Center gave an overview of the Knowledge Management Facility and how to engage youth with ICT learning tools.
During a short debriefing, the Ambassador expressed her satisfaction with the visit and said that she was impressed with the quality of IITA’s research, which is directly targeting and impacting farming communities.