A long-time collaborator and partner, the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS), honored IITA with the “Service Support Award” for excellent support and collaboration towards the achievements of its mandate. The plaque was given during the passing out ceremony of new NAQS staff on 16 April 2021, at the Regional Post Entry and Diagnostics Centre, Moor Plantation, Ibadan. Dr Vincent Isegbe, NAQS Director General, gave the award in the presence of the Head of Post-entry Plant Quarantine Station, Mr Akindele Ogunfunmilayo, and the NAQS management team.
This recognition is catalyzed by the work of the Germplasm Health and Virology Units of IITA, headed by Lava Kumar, which has made IITA proud through the “outstanding services and contributions to phytosanitary capacity development and biosecurity procedures that ensure safe transfers of plant germplasm between Nigeria and other countries around the world.”
NAQS is a regulatory agency under Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), responsible for implementing phytosanitary (plant health) measures to control the introduction and spread of foreign pests and pathogens, which can pose a severe risk to the agricultural economy, food safety, and the environment. NAQS and IITA’s Germplasm Health Unit (GHU) have been collaborating on preventing and combating emerging plant pests and pathogens, such as banana bunchy top, through the development of surveillance and diagnostic capacity.
In a ceremony to present the Service Support Award to IITA Director Geneal Nteranya Sanginga, Kumar said IITA had maintained partnerships with NAQS to ensure prompt import and export of its planting materials. Apart from the Unit’s contribution to the training of recruits at the Regional Post Entry and Diagnostic Center, IITA also contributed to improving its diagnostics and surveillance capacity. He added that the institutional partnership between IITA and NAQS has been mutually successful.
Michael Abberton, Director, R4D West Africa, commending Kumar’s efforts in leading a successful team and fostering partnerships in the larger CGIAR, said that “the award is well deserved.” He said Kumar (who leads the GHU platform in CGIAR) has played a key role in strengthening GHUs’ capacity and enabling the linkages between the GHUs across the CGIAR system as part of the CGIAR Genebank Platform.”
Alfred Dixon, Director, Development, and Delivery, commended the solid working relationships and collaboration with the GHU, the Genetic Resource Center, and NAQS, saying, “Without these collaborations, the work of breeders like me would not be successful, as clean germplasm are needed to develop new, improved varieties. We also need them to introduce our varieties to various countries across sub-Saharan Africa.”
The IITA DG gladly welcomed the award and congratulated the GHU team for their meritorious services. He said, “In the wake of the daily challenges the Institute has to overcome and in proffering solutions to agricultural problems, the giving of this award is very welcome. It is the best news coming in this year.” DG Sanginga added that the award helps not just the unit but the whole institution. The honor of being recognized by an important institution and a key partner such as NAQS speaks volumes about the impact of IITA. He thanked the NAQS DG and management for the excellent collaboration.
Kenton Dashiell, Deputy Director General-Partnerships for Development; Hilde Koper, Deputy Director General-Corporate Services; and Sylvia Oyinlola, Head Administration, West Africa Hub, lauded the excellent work of the GHU team in fostering institutional partnerships, which are key drivers in delivering agricultural solutions and sustainable development. They also praised Kumar for being a good leader and training an excellent team.
In his vote of thanks, Kumar attributed the Unit’s success to having a great team and a very supportive Management, adding that the collaboration and support received from the NAQS team is an important driver in their success. He profusely thanked the management teams of IITA and NAQS for the trust, support, and collaboration.