The Democratic Republic of Congo is in partnership talks with international Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) , Nigeria to transform its agricultural potential, create wealth, and jobs for the rapidly growing youth population that is plagued with unemployment.
DR Congo has vast arable land and a huge potential in agriculture. About 90per cent of the country’s population in the rural areas is presently engaged in agriculture. Agriculture in Congo only needs to be mechanized and improved on as a sustainable job creation venture.
2014, DR Congo gave IITA a grant of $3milion to help support youth engagement in agriculture. The country is hopeful that a partnership with IITA would speed up its agricultural development similar to what has happened in Nigeria.
Two senior Advisors in the office of the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Drs John Ulimwengu and Kamwanga Masankisa who visited IITA to explore this partnership took a tour of IITA campus, and visited labs, the IITA Business Incubation Platform, IITA Youth Agripreneurs’ fish- ponds, fish hatchery, postharvest unit, International Livestock Research Institute and Niji Farms.
According to Ulimwengu “DR Congo needs to create jobs for the increasing youth population and agriculture can create those jobs…our estimate is that DR Congo needs 1000 jobs annually to solve the growing unemployment”.
“We are interested in all that we have seen here especially the youth program and use of aflasafe technology to control aflatoxin in maize and groundnuts,” Dr Ulimwengu said
IITA’s primary focus is sub-Saharan Africa, implementing its work within four impact zones, representing major agroecological zones and farming systems, which also serve as Regional Hubs. The Central Africa Hub has the regional scope for the Congo Basin, including active projects in Burundi, Cameroon, DRC, Gabon and Rwanda. Several projects focus on the interaction of agriculture and the forest landscape and specifically aim to advance agricultural applications for the conservation of forest and natural resources.