Posted by IITA.

As the core celebration of the Institute’s golden jubilee draws near on 24 July, IITA recorded three simultaneous “firsts”, all on 30 June when management went all-out to announce the anniversary celebrations in Lagos State, Nigeria.

For the first time in 50 years, the Institute convened over 60 representatives from the local, regional, and international press at its facilities in Ikeja, for a briefing to highlight successes in the last 50 years and the direction for the next five decades.

On the panel answering questions and clarifying issues from the press were Kenton Dashiell, Deputy Director General (DDG), Partnerships for Delivery; Hilde Koper-Limbourg,DDG, Corporate Services; Robert Asiedu, Director, West Africa; and Kwesi Atta-Krah, Director, Systems and Site Integration and Chair, IITA50 Anniversary Committee. They also spoke on ongoing research, partnerships, funding, governance, host country relations, facilities, R4D directions, research impacts, the IITA50 celebration, and future research focus.

The team then proceeded to the 22nd floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Lagos Island where IITA initiated a partnership proposal with the NSE and also recorded another feat—ringing the closing gong on the trading floor!

The ringing of the bell either at the beginning or close of stock trading is a highly publicized ritual recognized to be an honor and a symbol of an achievement. It is observed everywhere in the world. Furthermore, due to the amount of coverage that the opening/closing bells receive, many companies coordinate new product launches and other marketing-related events to start on the same day as the company’s representatives ring
the bell. This particular ceremony was aired live on CNBC Africa and Channels Television. DDG Dashiell also received a miniature replica of the closing gong on behalf of the Institute.

Speaking on behalf of NSE CEO Oscar Onyema, Ade Bajomo, Executive Director, Market operations and technology, said the “NSE celebrates with IITA because it recognizes the Institute’s role in Africa’s food security goal.”

In response, Dashiell said “We do see this as a starting point for a partnership. We at IITA are willing, able, and have the experience working with various businesses in Nigeria, giving advice and technologies needed to get the biggest returns in cassava, maize, soybean, yam, banana, plantain, and beans. We have expertise in the full value chains of these crops and stand ready to help any company listed on the exchange with that technical information. We hope you encourage them to come visit us.”“The NSE is part of a sustainable stock exchange association and believes in the sustainability goals. As a result, NSE specifically associates with institutions and individuals who showcase best practice and make a big impact in society in general. We (NSE) know the role of IITA is particularly important in Africa today, considering that the continent will continue to increase in terms of population and economy over the next 30 to 50 years and food security will become a strategic and survival issue to power Africa’s emergence into the 21st century and into a global economy over the years to come. We are extremely proud of the work you are doing and hope you continue to do it,” Bajomo said.

To cap the day, Kwesi Atta-Krah was interviewed live for 10 minutes on CNBC Africa where he spoke elaborately on how IITA—working with government and national agricultural research systems—is helping to harness the next generation of farmers. Watch the interesting video here.

Photo: IITA (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)