Austin Ajayi, Yola
President/ VC of America University of Nigeria (AUN) Dr. Margee Ensign says Food security and education are the foundation for society development, without enough to eat, and the ability for individuals to learn, it will be impossible for a society to advance.
She stated this during the signing of Memorander of Understanding (MoU) between America Uniy of Nigeria and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Yola.
Dr. Ensign said “the new partnerships is a marriage of two institutions who have common goals can change the trajectory both of lives and institutions and countries on important issues but far more importantly for the people, farmers, women, children, in our region and the country”.
“The American University of Nigeria’s mission as a development university is to train bold leaders to solve societal problems, and to improve education in all its different forms”.
Preeminent international institution and we are very proud to be signing this MOU with you today, we have come together to partner to work on these two fundamental challenges—food insecurity and poor education, she said.
Noting that UNICEF has concluded that Nigeria has the second highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 32 percent of children under five but a recent study indicates that the figures for NE Nigeria are far higher:
“Every year in Nigeria, malnutrition contributes to more than 33% of the deaths of children below 5 years, and these deaths mostly occur in the northern geopolitical zones where nearly 50% of all children below 5 years are stunted”.
Stressing that Undernutrition or stunting– has far-reaching, long-term effects on those who survive adding that when girl children suffer from undernutrition, their own children are more likely to suffer from it in their first 1,000 days post conception.
“The first 1,000 days post conception represents a fundamental squandering of human potential, a damage from undernutrition in early life is largely irreversible.”
According the President, the partnership will give IITA the opportunity of having a research station in Northeast Nigeria, noting that “crop testing and performance varied in ecological conditions and the provision of 100 hectares of land and an office inside the campus of AUN in Yola, will enable IITA to complete its ecological coverage of the zone”.
Stressing that AUN has been working for the past 3 years with Adamawa state Ministry of Agriculture to provide hands-on training, mentoring and coaching to government employed extension workers, many of whom have never been trained to provide extension services.
She said AUN with support from IITA had contracted the Adamawa Agric. Mechanization Agency (AAMA), to manufacture planters, threshers and related farm machinery to ease the burden of farming for our beneficiaries at deeply discounted rates for crop farmers to thresh grain crops such as rice, maize, soybean and sorghum thus reducing the burden on youth and women that spend hundreds of hours every harvest season.
In his remark the Deputy Director General of IITA, Ken Dashiell said the partnership agreement is to address poverty and the high number of unemployed young men and women.
Mr Ken Dashiell noted that International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is an award winning, research for development organizations, providing solutions to hunger, poverty and the degradation of natural resources in Africa, adding that “IITA is guided by an ambitious strategy to lift 11.5 million people out of poverty and revitalize 7.5 million hectares of farmland.
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