In 2014, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Cuban Government which provides a legal framework for mutual collaborations in technology, skill transfer and entrepreneurship between African and Cuban institutions. To activate this MoU, FARA is developing a programme that will make Cuban agricultural expertise and technologies available for use by African countries to increase productivity and competitiveness in their priority value chains. The first countries to benefit from the program are Cote d’ Ivore, Ghana and Nigeria.
In this respect, Jigawa state of Nigeria, under the leadership of its Governor, His Excellency, Alhaji Mohammad Badaru Abubakar, sent a technical team to meet with the Agribusiness and Capacity Development team of FARA and the Cuban Mission in Ghana on the 3rd of August, 2017. The team was led by Mr. Gambo Ibrahim Aliyu, the Permanent Secretary, Jigawa State Ministry of Agriculture. Other members of the team were Dr. Danladi Lawan Damisa, Director General of Jigawa Research Institute, Mr. Imam Muhammad, Chief Research Officer in Jigawa Research Institute and the Production Manager of Jigawa Cassava Product Limited, Mr. Tijjani Adamu Ringim.
Speaking at the Cuban Embassy in Accra during the interaction, Mr. Julio Cesar Sanchez Martinez, Charge de Affairs of the Cuban Embassy, who represented the Cuban Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Pedro Luis Gonzalez Despaign, welcomed the strengthening of the relationship among FARA-CUBA-NIGERIA and reaffirmed Cuba’s willingness to share its technological prowess to improve agricultural productivity in Africa.
The Executive Director of FARA, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo pointed out that the MoU with Cuba intends to develop agriculture on the continent as FARA is the institution mandated to broker agricultural innovation partnerships that cut across African countries. This is the context in which FARA proposed to develop a programme that will make Cuban agricultural expertise and technologies available for use by African countries to increase productivity and competitiveness in their priority value chains.
Responding, Mr. Gambo Ibrahim Aliyu, thanked FARA and the Cuban Mission for identifying Jigawa state among the first entities to implement the program. He expressed the commitment of his state government in partnering with FARA to ensure its success.
The operationalization of the MoU will complement similar South-South initiatives that seek to bridge the technology gap as a means to overcoming poverty, hunger and malnutrition in Africa.
The Executive Director explained the modalities for national or state entities to participate in the programme. He pointed out that countries or states are expected to express their demands through FARA. FARA will submit requests for support to Cuba ensuring the support to the various entities is organized around a regional programme. Cuba will review the requests and respond accordingly with the needed transfer of technologies and innovations.
After visiting the Cuban mission in Accra, Ghana, the delegation from Jigawa state visited the FARA Secretariat to acquaint themselves with FARA’s work. Delivering a presentation on FARA’s work in supporting productivity growth and agribusiness development, Dr. ’Wole Fatunbi, Lead Specialist Innovation Systems and Partnerships pointed out that the innovation system approach that mobilises engagement of all actors across the value chain in the technology development, production, post-harvest processes and marketing holds the key to sustaining growth in the productivity and profitability of African agriculture. He explained the innovation platform—the institutional innovation tested by FARA as the organizational frame for institutionalizing the innovation system approach. He informed the visiting delegation about the resources that FARA has assembled to support the widespread adoption of innovation platforms by countries and communities.
Further, Dr. Fatunbi noted that the current emphasis by Nigeria to improve its agricultural sector through import substitution by local production, job generation for the youths and value chain enhancement to bring forth prosperity in the agrarian society will greatly benefit from wide scale adoption of innovation platforms.
“…with Agriculture being the mainstay of Jigawa State, capacities will be built, and competencies will be put in place to make Jigawa the Agribusiness hub of Nigeria”.– ’Wole Fatunbi.
FARA’s Agribusiness Capacity Building and Training programme which is expected to start in November 2017, will devote particular emphasis on youth empowerment and agribusiness by creating opportunities for young people along the agricultural value chains of high priority to Jigawa state. Other states from Nigeria that are expected to join the program include Kaduna, Kano, Edo, Ogun, Ondo and Osun States.
The Jigawa state delegation seized the opportunity to interact with FARA’s partners from the Ghanaian Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSRI), CSRI-Animal Research Institute- Accra (CCLEAR) and the College of Agriculture, University of Cape Coast (UCC), Cape Coast.
For pictures of this meeting, click here