IITA alumni, who are current and past staff and students of the Institute, have agreed to and taken the first steps towards strengthening and formalizing their association to better support the Institute by constituting an interim committee.

The alumni nominated to form this interim committee were Steve Lawani, former Director of Communication and Library Services, as Chair, and Eugene Terry, former plant pathologist and later Director of International Cooperation, as Vice Chair. Other members were Binta Sall, Ayoka Lawani, Leslie Everett, Kanayo Nwanze, Gabriel Okwor, Ade Aderogba, and Jo Mulongoy. Ken Dashiell, Deputy Director General, Partnerships for Delivery, and Kwesi Atta-Krah, Director, Systems and Site Integration, were selected as IITA Management focal points.

The alumni decided this at their seventh reunion which took place at IITA-Ibadan, Nigeria, and was part of the IITA 50th anniversary celebrations. The week-long celebrations included a three-day program for the alumni.

“IITA has been very good to us. We therefore need to be good to IITA. We need to formalize the association this year, which is also a special year for IITA as it marks its 50th anniversary,” said Prof Malachy Akoroda from the University of Ibadan, and an alumnus.

His sentiments were echoed by many alumni who noted that while this was the seventh meeting of the association, no steps had been taken towards its formalization.

The alumni pointed out that the association, if better organized, can play a critical role in supporting IITA, particularly in its advocacy and fundraising efforts as many other alumni associations do.

They therefore agreed that they needed to have an office at IITA with a few staff/volunteers to run the association and to reach out to many more alumni. The cost of running the office will be met through alumni contributions.

The interim committee was tasked to develop a concept for the IITA Alumni Association that will define its goals and principal objectives and to focus on urgent action over the next 5-year period for the association. These include proposing a governance structure for the association and a mechanism for advocacy and resource mobilization, through avenues such as traditional and nontraditional potential donors, the establishment of alumni-initiated fund raising for specific IITA projects, and the establishment of an Endowment Fund for IITA.

At the beginning of their meeting, the alumni had listened to remarks by IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga. Sanginga welcomed them to IITA’s campus in Ibadan and to the Institute’s 50th anniversary. He also urged them to support IITA. They had also watched and listened to a song and dance performance by students of the IITA International School, and then went on a tour around the IITA facilities, including labs, BIP, and the campus.

They visited various facilities including the Youth Agripreneurs and the Business Incubation Platform. This allowed some who were visiting the campus again for the first time in years, to familiarize themselves with new developments at IITA.

The alumni also shared their experiences and fond memories of when they were working or studying at the Institute and their current positions/activities. The other two days’ activities included tree planting and a field visit to neighboring attractions.

The alumni agreed to hold the reunion meetings every two years and that the next venue will be at the IITA-East Africa hub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.