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Business News of Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Source: B&FT

IITA to invest US$5m to boost agric sector

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The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), a non-governmental and non-profit making organisation involved in research-for-development (R4D) on tropical cash and food crops, is to invest US$5million annually to the agricultural sector and Research-For-Development (R4D) efforts in Ghana.

The investment will be carried out through joint research programmes and projects, a report of the Select Committee on Environment, Science and Technology in Parliament has revealed.

The investment also excludes remittances for salaries of local and international staff and operations, as well as administrative expenditures.

IITA, according to a report of the Select Committee on Environment, Science and Technology in Parliament, seeks to regularise its mutually beneficial relationship with government through a legal arrangement in the form of a Host Country Agreement.

The proposed agreement therefore aims to confer legal status and personality as well as privileges and immunities on the beneficial relationship in accordance with the laws of Ghana.

The agreement provides key reliefs, including exemptions for communication and transportation controls.

Edem Simon Asimah, Chairman of the Committee on Environment, Science and Technology, stated that a stronger Ghana-IITA collaboration “Will bring significant benefits to farmers and the national economy, through building individual and institutional capacity in science and technology, improved farm productivity and profitability, household income and nutrition, as well as consumer welfare”.

Members of the Committee also noted that physical establishment of the IITA West Africa Hub will benefit the tourism sector immensely, as officials of IITA will be drawn from across the globe to access its facilities in Ghana.

The Committee further observed that IITA has entered into similar Agreements with some ECOWAS member-states -- notably Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Mr. Asimah explained that IITA’s presence will involve more Ghanaian researchers, extension agents, technicians and other value chain actors (farmers, processors and traders) more readily in IITA’s R4D events.

“It will further strengthen IITA’s collaboration with Agricultural Research and Development Institutions: such as the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Environment Science, Technology, the private sector and other non-governmental organisations in terms of sharing new knowledge and germplasm of major staple crops.”

According to the report, the Agreement was revised by the Legal and Consular Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and regional Integration as well as the Attorney General’s Department, in order to bring it into conformity with relevant legislation and similar Agreements that Ghana has entered into with comparable international organisations -- such as International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

The Institute has been collaborating with National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in almost all the sub-Saharan countries through staff located in Benin, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.