New research park for Africa next year

New research park for Africa next year

Research Park for Africa, a facility to help countries tackle
pests and diseases, established by the International Institute of Tropical
Agriculture will open for operations in June next year, the institute’s
Director-General has said.

Peter Hartmann said this at the fifth reunion with former IITA
staff in Bali, Indonesia. Mr. Hartmann noted that Innovation Africa TM
(Research Park for Africa) was created last year to help capture more
scientific synergy.

“The physical facilities should be ready by June 2012,” Mr.
Hartmann said. “We are building a coalition of three centres to serve Africa’s
crop needs.”

The research park is one of the few things the Ibadan-based IITA
is doing to diversify its support base.

“We are working on a Pan-African wide instrument to help nations
tackle biological threats (pests and diseases), he added.

“We are producing more commercial products. We have just
released AflaSafe against Aflatoxins. The Gates Foundation is helping us seek
firms to produce it commercially. We are clustering IITA scientists in fewer
locations (hubs), so we can support them better. In short, we are investing in
IITA’s future,” he explained.

Very stable institute

According to the latest Impact by the Science Council of
Assessment of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
(CGIAR), about 70 per cent of the impact by the (CGIAR) in Africa is said to
come from research outputs by the IITA.

The 2007 assessment, which is still the latest, notes that the
value of the impact/benefit was greater than the total CGIAR investment in
African since 1971.

“That is something to be really proud of,” Mr. Hartmann said.

He added that 60 per cent of the maize grown in West and Central
Africa today comes from IITA varieties. The director general also noted that
IITA had remained a very stable institute.

“It goes for nothing sexy and does not play the latest fashion
game. It does the basic, steadily and consistently. That is its force. This
works,” he said.

Mr Hartmann added that the success being recorded by the
institute was a result of the commitment and foundation laid by its former
staff. He said the present management never reinvented the wheel.

“We did not have to undo anything. We just had to build on what
you all had built. So it was enjoyable,” he said.

Members of the alumni group expressed gratitude to Mr Hartmann’s
presence and efforts in keeping the flag flying at IITA.

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