International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Kalambo station, newly inaugurated as the President Olusegun Obasanjo Research Campus, commissioned a new tissue culture laboratory during an inauguration ceremony in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The world-class laboratory, which is the second of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, is intended to multiply clean and disease-free planting materials of banana, cassava, cocoa, potato, and yam—important African food and economic crops.
Former Nigerian Head of State Yakubu Gowon and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo commissioned the first tissue culture laboratory in 2017, along with African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, during IITA’s 50th anniversary celebration at the Institute headquarters in Ibadan, Nigeria.
At a pre-launch press conference, IITA Deputy Director General, Partnerships for Development, Kenton Dashiell, said the laboratory will serve researchers in the region, help in the diagnosis of problems of agricultural crops, provide solutions to challenges in agriculture, as well as support government initiatives in agriculture.
He said it will “contribute to the drafting of youth and women into agribusiness.” This will help address unemployment and DR Congo’s dependence on food imports to feed its population.
“To achieve this, IITA will make sure that this laboratory will multiply seedlings and cuttings of cassava and other important food crops. This is to help DR Congo and all of Africa in general to find sustainable solutions to problems related to food insecurity,” he said.
Also speaking at the press conference, IITA Director Research for Development, Central Africa Hub and Natural Resources Management, Bernard Vanlauwe, said efforts need to be linked to better agronomic and postharvest practices to develop competitive value chains and combat these crop diseases in DR Congo. He noted that IITA is already “working on it.”