His Excellency, Déo-Guide Rurema, Burundi Minister of Agriculture, accompanied by Emmanuel Njukwe from IITA Central African Hub and Rousseau Djouaka of IITA Benin visited the IITA biodiversity center in Cotonou, Benin Republic after attending the IITA50 celebration.

Picture of The Minister (right) being welcomed by IITA staff Georg Goergen, Muaka Toko, Rousseau Djouaka, and Emmanuel Njukwe during the tour of the biodiversity center.

The Minister (right) being welcomed by IITA staff Georg Goergen, Muaka Toko, Rousseau Djouaka, and Emmanuel Njukwe during the tour of the biodiversity center.

On arrival at Benin, the delegation drove straight to Porto Novo where the Director of the nongvernmental organization SONGHAI gave a guided a tour of SONGHAI installations and facilities.

The following day, 27 July, started with a visit to the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences (FSA) at the University of Abomey-Calavi where Minister Rurema had obtained his PhD. He was welcomed by Prof Ahohuendo Bonaventure, Vice Dean of the Faculty, who made a presentation followed by a tour of key departments of the Faculty. The next port of call was IITA-Benin station. After a short welcome by the acting Country Representative, Muaka Toko, the Minister was taken on a tour of the biodiversity center by Georg Goergen, the Molecular Laboratory by Rousseau Djouaka, and the laboratory for rearing of natural enemies of pests by senior staff and students. The visit was concluded with a reception and debriefing during which potential fields of collaboration were deliberated upon.

In his concluding remarks, the Minister thanked IITA Benin for the warm welcome and announced that he would initiate
a mutual and fruitful collaboration with IITA Benin.

Later that day, Minister Rurema, together with IITA staff Njukwe, Djouaka, Toko, and André Hessouh, paid a courtesy visit to his counterpart Dr Koudande Delphin, Benin Minister of Agriculture, Animal and Fisheries, to explore possibilities of collaboration between Benin and Burundi through their respective ministries.