IITA strengthens partnerships in Burundi
IITA Deputy Director General R4D May- Guri Saethre and Central Africa Hub Director Bernard Vanlauwe visited IITA Burundi from 17 to 20 June to meet with and engage staff and partners. The visit provided an opportunity to get acquainted with research updates from the Burundi station as well as assess facilities and staff working conditions.
Saethre also visited with the management of the Institute of Agronomic Sciences of Burundi (ISABU), the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture, and Livestock (MINEAGRIE), the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), the Agricultural Markets Development Project (PRODEMA), and the Farmers’ Association in Rumonge.
The DDG was welcomed by ISABU Director General Engineer Nahimana Dieudonné who appreciated the cordial relations that exists between IITA and ISABU and IITA’s investment in building the capacity of ISABU staff and researchers. Saethre advised both institutions to foster collaboration in joint proposal development and investment of project activities for better use and management of resources.
At MINEAGRIE, the DDG was received by Burundi’s Minister of Environment, Agriculture, and Livestock, Dr Rurema Deo-Guide. Minister Deo-Guide assured the DDG of the willingness of the Burundi Government to support and cooperate with IITA in resource mobilization towards providing scientific and technical assistance to Burundi institutions, particularly agriculture which employs over 90% of the population. Minister Deo-Guide spoke about his visit last year to IITA Ibadan and IITA Cotonou while participating in IITA’s 50th anniversary celebrations. He urged that the good initiatives he witnessed then be replicated in Burundi for IITA’s visibility especially as he was an IITA alumnus and IITA ambassador.
Saethre met with IITA staff and those of hosted institutions such as Bioversity International, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) where she received updates about ongoing projects and activities. She appreciated the good collaboration that exists between IITA and hosted institutions, and stressed that this will have to be the key to the success of all projects led by IITA and partners in Burundi. It was an interactive meeting and staff took the opportunity to ask questions and express their opinions.
The visit to NCA focused on opportunities for collaboration; at PRODEMA the discussion was about co-investment in the agriculture sector. The DDG was updated on current initiatives and PRODEMA management acknowledged the support and value that IITA and partners have added to PRODEMA projects, which have led to improved productivity, better postharvest equipment specification, and increased capacity among smallholder farmers operating as cooperatives. Saethre advised that they be time conscious in the implementation of activities to meet project timelines and tailor activities based on the needs of communities for food, nutrition, and financial security.
During a field visit to Rumonge, the DDG met with the Governor of Rumonge Province, Bigirimana Juvenal, before interacting with members of the farmers’ association involved in the PRODEMA project on multiplying improved cassava varieties. The farmers appreciated the visit and said the improved cassava varieties were yielding 3–5 times more than local cultivars and that it will help them feed their families and provide better income to cater for other needs.