The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is set to inaugurate its research station in Kalambo, Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo in honour of Nigeria’s former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
The new campus is an elevation of the station which operated in a project mode for many years and became the focal point of IITA’s regional hub for natural resource management in the Great Lakes in 2011.
According to official documents published by the institute, the research station will be called “President Olusegun Obasanjo IITA Kalambo Research Campus”. It explained that it is honouring Obasanjo, who spearheads the Zero Hunger Initiative, because of his immense contributions to agricultural research in Africa.
The document recalled that “in 2014, President Obasanjo had agreed to launch the IITA research station in Kalambo but due to air traffic difficulties this did not happen. Naming this campus after him will honour the sacrifices he endured simce 1961 when as a young soldier he was part of the UN troops that was mandated to make peace in DR Congo after independence and all his efforts to mediate peace in 2008 when the country was invaded by the rebels led by Nkunda in the east of the country, Of course, the many contributions he has made for IITA also justify this honour.”
The official inauguration will hold on October 8, 2019. President Felix Tshisekedi of DR Congo and dormer presidemt, Joseph Kabila, will grace the occasion. President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina and other Africa Heads of State and dignitaries from DRC will be present while IITA Director-General, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, will lead the IITA senior management team and Board of Trustees.
The first stone of the Kalambo campus was laid by Sanginga on the new campus of the Catholic Univerwity of Bakavu in 2008 as the headquarters of a company, refered to as CIALCA Development International, aiming at creating capaxity building for youth in agribusiness. The initial infrastructure was launched on June 5, 2014, by President Kabila, represnted by the Minister of Agriculture. Since then IITA has developed it as the main international agricultural research centre in DR Xongo and in the Great Lakes.
The IITA says that the historic naming of the centre after Obasanjo will spearhead the development of agricultural research and business while building bridges between the people of DRC and Nigeria.