Belgian Ambassador to Tanzania impressed with IITA’s research work
IITA’s research efforts to address some of the major challenges in the agriculture sector have impressed the new Belgian Embassy to Tanzania. He expressed this after a tour of the IITA-Eastern Africa’s hub Headquarters in Dar es Salaam to familiarize himself with the Institute’s research activities and innovations and to explore avenues for strengthening the existing collaboration. IITA is one of the CGIAR centers receiving financial support from the Belgium government.
During his visit, the ambassador, His Excellency Peter Van Acker, was warmly welcomed by hub Director, Victor Manyong, and guided on a tour of the research facilities that include four laboratories—Molecular, Plant pathology, Soil, and Food science.
The research team also showed him innovations developed to address challenges in the agriculture sector such as the SeedTracker—an app designed to provide agriculture stakeholders with information on improved and certified cassava seed and link them to markets. Other apps shown were the NURU app, which is used to diagnose cassava pests and diseases; and Akilimo—an app designed to give farmers information on soil fertility and fertilizer usage.
The Ambassador also interacted with the Aflasafe team and learnt about the safe and effective solution to control aflatoxin in maize and groundnut, and with the Tanzania Youth Agripreneur team that exhibited the various products made from processing of cassava and soybean they were involved in as part of income generating activities.
His Excellency Van Acker noted that the Belgium government has had a long working relationship with IITA and other CGIAR center programs toward research-for-development projects. Apart from financial support, IITA has been receiving expertise from the Belgium University in its banana projects. He singled out Prof Rony Swennen, Senior Scientist and Head of IITA banana breeding program who was from Belgium and spearheading efforts to strengthen collaboration between Belgian universities and the banana breeding program.
“I am impressed with several things including Aflasafe because it is a commercialize product, which will ensure that maize and groundnut are safely aflatoxin-free. Also, the NURU App, which can scan cassava leaves for diseases is really incredible!” he said after the tour.
Manyong thanked the Ambassador and further invited him to plan for another visit to the IITA youth center at Kwembe.