Governor of Mai-Ndombe Province in DRC seeks IITA’s support
On 5 July, IITA-Kinshasa hosted the Governor of Mai-Ndombe Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Paul Mputu Boleilanga. Agriculture Provincial Minister, Faustin Mbanzami and Environment Provincial Minister, Marius Trésor Boleko, accompanied Governor Boleilanga as he met with IITA-DRC Country Representative, Zoumana Bamba, and other IITA senior staff to discuss agriculture and fishing potentials of Mai-Ndombe Province.
Mai-Ndombe Province, located west of Kinshasa, has a population of about 2 million people and the recently sworn-in Governor spoke of possible areas of collaboration between the province and IITA. During the meeting, Governor Boleilanga outlined some areas where IITA could be of assistance including the training of farmers in crop management and processing techniques and providing high-yielding and adaptable crop varieties including cassava, cocoa, rice, and maize as well as fishing. These will help improve the agricultural sector, which is the main economic activity of Mai-Ndombe’s population.
The bad practices currently used by the farmers of Mai-Ndombe such as slash-and-burn agriculture, deforestation, and use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets to catch large numbers of fish, contribute to destruction of the soil and ecology. Governor Boleilanga said that agricultural activities in his province are still at an early stage and he urged for help from IITA to introduce new technologies and thereby improve food security and reduce poverty in the province. He also mentioned that the province had a market opportunity inside and outside DRC.
In his welcome address, Bamba thanked the Governor for the visit and consideration given to IITA as an expert in agriculture. He gave an overview of the Institute’s mandate, highlighting some collaborative activities with other institutions including the National Agricultural Research Institute (INERA), National Seed Service (SENASEM), NGOs, and other stakeholders.
Bamba also explained the vision of IITA through various interventions in Africa at large and DRC in particular. These include the innovative approach of community development such as support to young entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector. Responding to the Governor’s request, Bamba expressed IITA’s willingness to collaborate with the province, noting that the Institute only required a written invitation to dispatch a team of IITA experts who will accompany the Governor during his tour of the province.
The tour is due to begin on 15 July and participation in this tour will allow the IITA team to identify problems and propose appropriate solutions.