IITA and Sierra Leone sign agreement to boost national crop production and food security
IITA has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Agriculture, to partner with the government on reduction of malnutrition and ensuring food security in the country. The MoU entails the introduction of new crop varieties and cultivation techniques, the reopening of IITA station in Sierra Leone, as well as the creation of employment for young people. The final meeting, held on 12 February, was attended by IITA Director General, Nteranya Sanginga, Deputy Director General, Partnerships for Delivery (DDG-P4D), Kenton Dashiell, IITA project coordinators, unit heads, and the team from Sierra Leone.
With an estimated population of 7.8 million people, Sierra Leone is one of the countries in the world experiencing up to 37% malnutrition level, affecting pregnant women and children. Priority areas of collaboration include transformation of the rice sector, initiative on cassava, production, and marketing of cowpea. One focal point of discussion was about developing the cassava industry to produce high quality flour, good for pregnant women and children, which can in turn be processed into foods such as garri and pastries. Other principal aspects of the MoU are the production of maize and yam, biofortification of seeds, and youth empowerment.