Rooting for Nigeria

(Abeokuta, Nigeria, 24-28 September 2012) It’s the rainy season here in Nigeria and the water is falling loud and clear in Abeokuta, Ogun state, hometown of famous Nigerians including Nobel prize winner Wole Soyinka. Nonetheless, the participants of the 16th international symposium of the International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC) will leave their verdant surroundings with more fond memories than any tropical rain could wash out.


With several thousands participants, the conference was a great opportunity for CIP scientists to meet with partners and present the results of their research. They definitely got more than they could have expected: not only did they engage in discussions with many of their peers – CIP presented on five topics at breakout sessions – but they also received a great deal of recognition: Dr. Jan Low from CIP office in Nairobi was honored with a special award for her work on orange-fleshed sweetpotato, and Dr. Dina Gutierrez from CIP-Lima received a poster award for her work with Dr. Martine Zakandjanou-Tachin from the University of Benin, and other contributors, on “Determining the Pan-African sweetpotato virome: understanding virus diversity, distribution and evolution and their impacts on sweetpotato production in Africa”. Well done, ladies!

Showcasing RTB

ISTRC was also the opportunity for CGIAR’s Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas to present its work and strategy, a process that included a priority-setting exercise conducted via crop surveys distributed to the participants. An RTB informational booth showcased the different crops and disseminated promotional materials to English- and French-speaking visitors.

The taste of cassava

Cassava sells well and quickly in Nigeria, where ‘gari’ and ‘fufu’ are very popular staples. An excursion to Thai Farm allowed the participants to visit a new plant with state-of-the-art machinery for the production of cassava flour. Their challenge? Get the farmers to provide enough of the highly-demanded cassava to the factory before quality deteriorates just 48 hours after harvest. A visit was also organized to IITA Headquarters at Ibadan, in the neighboring Oyo state, which included a tour of the genebank, the yam breeding plots and the tasting of products made from… cassava flour, of course!
The conference dinner even included a lively show with musicians and dancers who presented pieces about the importance of roots and tubers in everyday life. Enough to leave the country with colorful and tasty memories. Odabo, Nigeria!

Text and Photos by VĂ©ronique Durroux-Malpartida