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IITA boss receives prestigious award for championing youth in agriculture programs


The Association of Deans of Agriculture in Nigeria Universities (ADAN) has honored the Director-General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, with an Award of Excellence for successfully pioneering the IITA Youth in Agribusiness program.

The award was presented to the IITA boss during the 64th annual general meeting of ADAN held recently in Nasarawa State, north-central Nigeria.

“We are proud of the impact of the work that IITA has been doing, particularly among the youth, and it is worthy of recognition,” Chair of the Local Organizing Committee of ADAN, Prof. Olumuyiwa James Jayeoba, said.

The IITA youth program, which initially started with less than 50 youths on IITA Campus, Ibadan, has blossomed with hundreds of young people across Africa benefiting from the program. Most of the program’s beneficiaries are now managers of their own farms, while others have picked up other vocations within the agriculture space.

“ADAN intends to emulate the IITA Youth program and replicate the model across Nigerian universities,” Prof. Jayeoba disclosed.

Receiving the award on behalf of Dr. Sanginga, Dr. Alfred Dixon, the Director of the Development and Delivery Office of IITA, said the recognition was an encouragement for IITA and the DG to do more for the growth of youth in Africa.

“The youth program in IITA has demonstrated that the rising youth population is a huge capital that we need to harness for wealth creation and the prosperity of Africa,” Dr. Dixon added.

Widely referred to as the “father of youth in agripreneurship”, Dr. Sanginga successfully pioneered the youth-in-agriculture initiative that has been adopted in many African countries.

Prior to becoming the Director-General of IITA, Dr. Sanginga served as the Director of the Nairobi-based Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute (TBSF) of the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT-TBSF). Before transferring to CIAT-TBSF, Dr. Sanginga served for 14 years in IITA in various capacities, including Principal Scientist and Head of the Soil Microbiology Unit. Other positions he held include Assistant Coordinator of the Alley Farming Network for Tropical Africa (AFNETA); Project Coordinator of Improvement of High-Intensity Food and Forage Crop Systems and Short Fallow Systems to Arrest Land Degradation due to Land Use Intensification; Leader of the multidisciplinary program Improving and Intensifying Cereal-Legume Systems in the Moist and Dry Savannas of West and Central Africa, and collaborating with many scientists in national and international institutions.

Dr Sanginga has more than 30 years of experience with the University of Zimbabwe, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Austria, CIAT-TSBF, and IITA in agricultural research and development, particularly in the fields of applied microbial ecology, plant nutrition, and integrated natural resources management in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Born and bred in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Dr. Sanginga did most of his postgraduate training at IITA and his PhD in Agronomy/Soil Microbiology under a joint program between IITA and the Institut Facultaire des Sciences Agronomiques, Yangambi, DRC.

He has extensive skills in research management, developing partnerships and institutional linkages, and institution building. Under his leadership, the CIAT-TSBF portfolio rose from $1.2 million in 2003 to over $14.5 million in 2010. Its research-for-development agenda expanded from focusing on Western Kenya to covering the major agroecosystems of East, Central, and Southern Africa. In IITA, he has more than tripled the institute’s budget since the assumption into office.

Dr Sanginga played a major role in the creation of the Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based Livelihood in Central Africa (CIALCA) that included three international research centers (IITA, CIAT-TSBF, and Bioversity), university partners in Belgium, national research and development partners in DRC, Burundi, and Rwanda.

His career has also focused on building the capacity of young scientists in Africa. He has trained more than 30 Ph.D. candidates at the National University of Congo, School of Agriculture, and the University of Zimbabwe, who now hold leadership positions in their countries.

Dr Sanginga has to his credit more than 150 publications in international journals and book chapters.

Under his leadership, IITA received the Al-Summit Award for Food Security in 2016 and the Africa Food Prize in 2018.

At the award ceremony were: Dr. Chrys Akem, Technologies for TAAT Coordinator: Prof. Lateef Sanni, Project Leader for BASICS-II; Ezinne Igbokwe Ibe, Project Administrator, BASICS-II: Godwin After, Advocacy, Promotion & Outreach Lead, BASICS-II and the youth agriprenuers in IITA.