The Ambassador of the United States to Cameroon visits IITA-Cameroon
His Excellency, Peter Henry Barlerin, the Ambassador of the United States to Cameroon and five members of his team visited the IITA Cameroon Station on 12 July. During the visit, the Ambassador’s first to IITA, he learnt about various projects implemented in the context of the Congo Basin Institute (CBI) with US partners.
The Ambassador was received by IITA-Cameroon Country Representative, Cargele Masso and his colleagues. The event began with a presentation of some of the activities implemented by IITA in Cameroon.
In his presentation, IITA Entomologist Komi Fiaboe demonstrated how invasive pests represent a major bottleneck in crop productivity. Recent cases of fruit flies and fall armyworm were used as examples to demonstrate the level of such threats. Fiaboe emphasized how IITA identifies, in different agroecologies, natural enemies that silently kill these pests and secure food security, with no harm to human and environmental health. He also mentioned the fact that IITA-Cameroon initiated a Biopesticide Development Unit, using indigenous isolates and holding potential for industrialization.
The Ambassador toured the facilities including the Molecular Biology Laboratory, where Head of the Laboratory, Sergine Ngatat made a presentation on the lab’s capacity to diagnose plant pathogens and identify species using molecular tools.
Matthew LeBreton gave a rundown of some upcoming workshops to be hosted by CBI that are aimed at linking students, researchers, and local policy makers for better natural resource conservation. The US Department of State supports most of this work, which is implemented by numerous members of the CBI consortium.
The tour also included stops at the Ebony Project, the IITA tissue laboratory, and ENABLE Youth Cameroon. The Ambassador was impressed with the determination of the young aspiring agripreneurs at the Youth Agribusiness Incubation Center (YABIC) and encouraged them to continue taking their training seriously. He indicated that they deserve support for them to excel in the agricultural sector.
The visit of Ambassador Barlerin followed a visit to the USA Embassy in Yaoundé by Prof Tom Smith, Executive Director of the Congo Basin Institute (CBI) and Dr Masso, in June.