Oyo state governor,Seyi Makinde,has expressed intent of his administration to collaborate with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to ensure food security in the state.
He disclosed while receiving the Director-General of the IITA and CGIAR Regional Director, Continental Africa, Dr. Simeon Ehui and his team at the Courtesy Room of the Governor’s Office.
Appreciating the Institute for its collaborative efforts with the state since he took office in 2019, Makinde said he would partner with the Institute to address the challenges of food insecurity and that by so doing, the state would have solved the poverty problem by a half.
He maintained that his government is determined to tackle the challenge of food insecurity, saying: “As a country, we are going through challenges right now, in the economy, they have removed the lid on the exchange rates, and also PMS subsidy has been removed, so these have brought in quite a bit of hardship on the people.
“If you also look into the needs of the people, they say that if you take care of hunger then, poverty has been solved, so you cannot toy with the issue of food security. This means that leaders at this particular time in this country have to work three times as hard for anyone to even notice that they are doing something.
“With the IITA, if we focus on taking care of hunger through food security in our state, then we would have been able to solve half of the challenges ahead of us.
“So, I want to pledge that, even though it is a new DG, as a state we will continue to work together to tackle food security within our state and within the country and the continent. So, we will continue to partner with you,” the governor said.
He said he was looking forward to further profitable partnerships with the Institute, even as he added that the government would continue with the Start Them Early Programme (STEP), which trains secondary school students in Oyo state on agribusiness practices.
He said: “On behalf of the people of Oyo State, I welcome you back to your home and to your state. I like the idea that you have been here at IITA as a young researcher and now you are back as the DG after going around the world.
“What that means to us is that you have brought back all the knowledge you must have acquired and also you have the opportunity to do those things that, as a young researcher you had thought if I have this opportunity I can do this. Now, the opportunity is here so you have to file those things out.
“Personally also, let me use this opportunity to say thank you to the team at IITA.
“When we came in about four years ago, we sat down, of course I asked Dr Debo Akande, we have around Ibadan here almost six or seven research institutes, we have IITA, we have Forestry Research Institute, we have National Cereals Institute, Cocoa Research Institute, NIHORT, so I said what are we getting as a state from these research institutes? How have they benefitted us as a state?
“That interaction actually gave birth to STEP programme and it has been very successful and I am glad that the state government collaborated with IITA to focus on those youngsters.
“I would like to say that the programme will continue and now, we plan to extend it to other parts of the state. So, we will continue the programme.”
In his remarks,the IITA boss and CGIAR Regional Director, Continental Africa, Dr. Ehui, said the Institute is ready to work with the state government to improve the food security system in the state.
He said the food system in Africa is being challenged due to climate change,and assured the state of more support from the Institute, as it partners with it to deliver on their mandates.