IITA Burundi celebrated the Golden Jubilee in Bujumbura on 21 September in collaboration with the Burundian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and the Institute of Agronomic Sciences of Burundi (ISABU)
The colorful event was graced by the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Bagorikunda Séverin, who represented the Minister for Agriculture; the Director General of ISABU, Dr Dieudonne Nahimana; and Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burundi, Amb. Friday Okai. Other dignitaries included representatives from the World Bank, FAO, partner NGOs, and the Burundi national press.
Nziguheba Generose delivered a speech on behalf of the IITA leadership reiterating IITA’s commitment to research and initiatives that will transform agriculture in the region through scalable and user-oriented technologies that cater to the needs of smallholder farmers.
The event was marked with speeches from chief guests delivering goodwill messages and reaffirming the commitment of their parent organizations to stronger partnership ties with IITA. Scientists from IITA, ISABU, and Bioversity made presentations on ongoing research and projects carried out in collaboration between the two organizations in Burundi.
IITA staff in attendance included Emmanuel Njukwe, IITA’s Country Representative in Burundi; Chris Okafor, Officer-in-Charge, IITA Kalambo; James Legg, Plant Health Specialist; Marc Schut, IITA Country Representative for Rwanda; and staff from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi.
Ernest Manirambona, representing FAO, extolled IITA’s transformational work in Burundi citing research on cassava in fighting the devastating cassava viral diseases cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) as one of the outstanding contributions of IITA to the country.
Government of Burundi is ready to support IITA initiatives
Bagorikunda Séverin, the Permanent Secretary from the Burundian Ministry of Agriculture, read the statement on behalf of the Minister, lauding the contributions that IITA has made in Burundi since setting up shop in the country in the early 1990s. He pointed out the introduction of improved cassava varieties and intensified research and propagation in banana farming as some of the most notable IITA inputs to the Burundian agricultural sector.
“IITA has played a significant role in capacity building in research, seeing our young men and women become scientists, supporting our research institutes, and creating opportunities for collaboration,” the statement read in part. The Minister is one of the scientists who have gone through IITA’s research and capacity building program.
In the statement, the Minister reaffirmed the Government’s readiness to support and work with IITA on future activities, among them the recently commenced PRODEMA project funded by the World Bank.
ISABU Director General Dieudonne Nahimana asked for more IITA presence in Burundi. He noted that an organization of IITA’s stature in the continent had a lot to offer to the country’s agricultural and research ambitions. He said ISABU will be looking forward to more collaboration with IITA and support on financial and technical aspects, sharing of expertise, new technologies, and linking ISABU to regional and international research organizations.
Fun and festivities
The celebrations culminated in an expo-display of scientific work done in Burundi between IITA and ISABU scientists for both past and ongoing projects. The display session segued to an entertaining performance by a traditional dance troupe as the guests settled in to enjoy the evening cocktails.