IITA, Sierra Leone Sign Agreement for Food Security

The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, IITA, has signed a memorandum of understanding, MoU, with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Agriculture, to partner with the government on reduction of malnutrition and ensuring food security in the country.

The MoU entails the introduction of new crop varieties and cultivation techniques, the reopening of IITA station in Sierra Leone, as well as the creation of employment for young people. The final meeting, held on 12 February, was attended by IITA Director General, Nteranya Sanginga, Deputy Director General, Partnerships for Delivery (DDG-P4D), Kenton Dashiell IITA Project Coordinators, unit heads, and the team from Sierra Leone.

With an estimated population of 7.8 million people, Sierra Leone is one of the countries in the world experiencing up to 37% malnutrition level, affecting pregnant women and children. Priority areas of collaboration include transformation of the rice sector, initiative on cassava, production, and marketing of cowpea. One focal point of discussion was about developing the cassava industry to produce high quality flour, good for pregnant women and children, which can in turn be processed into foods such as garri and pastries. Other principal aspects of the MoU are the production of maize and yam, biofortification of seeds, and youth empowerment.

While presenting his proposal, the Sierra Leonean minister of agriculture, Joseph Jonathan Ndanema explained that the agricultural sector in Sierra Leone is experiencing a long-term decline, resulting in inadequate food supply for natives. To combat this, the incumbent government is focused on transforming the agriculture sector into a productive one, which caters for the needs of citizens and allows for possible export of agricultural products to generate revenue.

“Sierra Leone government wants to partner with IITA because of its technologies which can help the country’s agricultural sector and the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute, SLARI. There is great potential in collaborating as well as strengthening and enhancing the existing partnership with IITA in the development of agriculture in Sierra Leone,” Ndanema said.

Speaking at the signing of the MoU at IITA Ibadan, Sanginga praised Ndanema and all delegates from Sierra Leone for being keen about creating sustainable agricultural development that will benefit all. He also said, “I agree with all you propose, and will relay it to the appropriate quarters.”

Prior to the signing of the MoU, IITA scientists and unit heads made presentations on the ongoing research programs and activities of the Institute. Afterwards the Sierra Leonean delegates from were later taken on unit tours.

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