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July 20, 2024
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ILRI Launches Forage Genetic Resources Unit 

Clarion Olusegun 

To ensure food security across the African continents and revolutionise livestock farming, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has launched a forage genetic resource unit at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan.

During the official launching event,  organised by ILRI, Nigeria on Friday at the country office in IITA Ibadan the Director General ILRI, Prof Appolinaire Djikeng commended the ILRI Nigeria team led by Dr Tunde Amole for their commitment towards achieving credible research work at ILRI Nigeria.

He noted that the launch of the Forage Genetic Resource Unit, at IITA is another achievement of ILRI in Nigeria, stressing that this cannot be achieved without the commitment of the Nigerian team. 

He explained that the genetic resources plots will be an extension of the ILRI Forage Gene Bank in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which will bring a transformation to livestock production in Nigeria and beyond by providing quality forage seeds and planting materials for pasture development in Nigeria.

In his opening remarks, the Country representative of ILRI, Dr Tunde Amole noted that the launch of the Forage Genetic Resource Unit by ILRI at IITA marked a milestone in Nigeria’s agricultural sector. 

While highlighting partnerships with stakeholders such as Friesland Campina, Milkin Barn, AgroInfotech, L-PRES, Real People Concept, Ministry of Agriculture and food security, among others in Oyo State, including the State Ministry of Agriculture. 

Also speaking, the Executive Adviser to the Governor of Oyo State on Agribusiness, Dr. Debo Akande said that at the core of every agricultural development is inclusive partnership and collaboration with concerned stakeholders.

Dr. Debo who represented the state Governor, Engnr. Seyi Makinde made this known today,  at the celebration of the International Livestock Research Institute Golden Jubilee Anniversary in commemoration of the National Pasture Planting Day celebration in Nigeria.

Akande who is also the Director-General of Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency said there is a need to strengthen public and private synergy in the areas of agriculture and this is the model adopted by the government of Oyo state the sector in the state. 

His words: “There is no development in agriculture without partnership and we have developed a model which brings together the private and  public sector partnership in. 

“The model is working well as we  understand the role of both the private and public sectors in agriculture.”

He added that  the state also embraces development partners including the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA and ILRI, among others 

He said: “We also recognize that the two are not enough; we have seen the importance of development partners like IITA and ILRI and the creation of the Fasola Agribusiness Industrial hub.

“It’s just two years since ILRI  and Oyo state signed a MoU and we’ve seen growth in the  history of Oyo state and contributing substantial resources to the growth of Livestock.”

He was optimistic that the partnership would continually be strengthened and developed with the expectation that after the project that over 1000 livestock will be developed. 

According to him, Oyo has taken comparative advantage in the areas of agriculture to see development in the state through excellent leadership of the governor. 

He added that , “Oyo state is now the largest milk producing place for FrieslandCampina in Nigeria and Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub is one of the places where the milk is being produced.” 

Akande further outlined plans for a new 3,000-hectare agribusiness hub in Eruwa, integrating livestock and crop production to bolster the state’s economy.

On her part, the representative of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Mrs Akeredolu Olayinka Abimbola said that the goal of the ministry is not only to address the renewed hope agenda but also   instituting the more needed tranquillity in ending the clashes between herders and farmers in Niger state. 

She expressed the displeasure of the federal government and the ministry over the insecurity of farmers and herders, saying the ministry and FG are not happy with this. 

She stated that the ministry is intentional about partnering with ILRI,  “to increase the quantity and quality of livestock industry by minimum of 60% yield, to develop the sector, and take care of all animals, the handlers and the citizens. 

Commending the minister of Agriculture, Senator Abubakar Kyari, she said that the ministry has developed  grazing resorts, trained farmers in artificial inseminations to increase indigenous breedings, and adopted  global plan action of animal genetic resources, among others. 

In his remarks, Dr. Simeon Ehui, Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), praised ILRI’s initiative over the launch of Forage Genetic Resource Unit, he acknowledged ILRI roles in biodiversity conservation amid climate challenges.

“The genebank establishment ensures biodiversity preservation for future generations,” Dr. Ehui remarked, reflecting on ILRI’s 50-year journey and the collaborative efforts driving agricultural innovation.

The representative of Niger State Governor, Prof. Mohammed Yahaya Kuta highlighted the state’s vast agricultural potential and expressed support for ILRI’s initiatives in livestock development.

“With significant land and water resources, Niger State aims to leverage ILRI’s expertise to enhance productivity,” Prof. Yahaya affirmed.

He emphasised Niger’s State Governor’s commitment to agricultural mechanisation, including plans to introduce 10,000 tractors to accelerate agricultural growth.

While briefing journalists shortly after the official unveiling of the Forage Genetic Resource Unit, the ILRI country representative said the  initiative, in support of the effort of the Director, Animal Husbandry Service, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Mrs. Winnie Lai-Solarin, aims to propel sustainable livestock development across the country.

He also emphasised the unit’s pivotal role in addressing food security challenges through the development of high-yielding forage seeds suited to Nigeria’s tropical conditions.

The event which was also organised to mark the National Pasture Planting Day and celebrate ILRI’s golden jubilee anniversary had in attendance other dignitaries including the Representative of National Project Coordinator L-Pres, Nazif Ibrahim Wada, Representative of Sahel Consulting, Fisayo Kayode, among others. 

Other participants are the Directors of Livestock Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Oyo and Ogun State, Representative of the Commissioner for Agriculture, Oyo, Animal science and Pasture Professors from LAUTECH, FUNAAB and University of Ibadan.

Meanwhile, some of the attendees shared their thoughts on what should be done to promote the sector, which according to them included, provision of  technical supports, institutions and private sector supports, make pasture production lucrative, increase training opportunities for livestock farmers and herders, improve more extension works and increase research to generate expected success and growth.

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