Belgian Ambassador visits the President Olusegun Obasanjo Research Campus in DRC
On 17 February, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mr Jo Indekeu, visited IITA’s President Olusegun Obasanjo research Campus in Kalambo, Democratic Republic of Congo. His wife accompanied him along with his Political Advisor Mrs Séverine de POTTER. The purpose of the visit was to familiarize themselves with the research for development activities of IITA in South Kivu.
IITA Country Representative and Central Africa Hub Deputy Director, Zoumana Bamba, along with Head of Station, Adebowale Akande, received the Ambassador. Other scientists were on hand to welcome the Ambassador including Project Coordinator and Impact Economist, Paul Dontsop-Nguezet; Program Manager for Aflasafe, Joseph Atehnkeng; Regional Integration Specialist, Mamadou Fofana; Systems Agronomist for CIALCA, Kokou Kintche; System Agronomist, Leon Nabahungu; and Rector of Université Catholique de Bukavu (UCB), Prof Kanigula Mubagwa.
In his welcome remarks, Bamba outlined the research-for-development activities of IITA in collaboration with various national and international partners. In particular, he commended UCB for its support to and close collaboration with the Station. He also highlighted the Investment of the Belgian government in the Great Lakes Region through IITA in the development and dissemination of different technologies and capacity building of the national scientists and practitioners by moving from farming to integrated livelihood systems and agricultural systems for nutrition.
The Ambassador and his team embarked on a guided tour of the Station including stops at the Institute’s laboratory facilities and agroprocessing activities. They were impressed with the modern equipment for advanced analysis in soil, molecular biology, and Rhizobiology as well as the technology in the Tissue Culture and Aflasafe laboratories
They were informed that the laboratories stand among the best in DRC and in the region, with a purpose to serve the entire Great Lakes region (Burundi, Congo, and Rwanda) especially on improving food safety and nutrition security in the region. These laboratories are to help the Central Africa region produce healthy planting materials of important African food crops as well as look for solutions to cassava diseases to improve and sustain cassava productivity through the development and promotion of varieties resistant to brown streak and other biotic constraints in DRC.
In the laboratories, the visitors asked many questions on Aflasafe, such as its mode of application. They were happy with the responses and praised the Institute for its exceptional and impactful activities in the country.
In his parting remarks, Ambassador Indekeu assured the Institute of Belgium’s continued support of its research activities. He was also excited about the possibilities for collaboration with universities in Belgium and of the socioeconomic development of agriculture in the region.