On May 8, 2017, the province of Nampula, northern Mozambique, hosted the official launching ceremony of the expansion phase of the Viable Sweetpotato Technologies in Africa (VISTA) Mozambique project (2016-2021). The project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The event also included the official inauguration of the new International Potato Center (CIP) office at the Zonal Research Center for Northeastern Mozambique of the Agricultural Research Institute of Mozambique (IIAM) in Nampula. The office will support project activities by CIP and partners in Nampula and Zambézia provinces and other parts of the Northern region of the country.
The launch was led by His Excellency the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security of Mozambique, Mr José Pacheco. In his speech, Mr. Pacheco recognized CIP as a strategic partner for achieving several of the strategic objectives of the core government plan of Mozambique. He emphasized that the VISTA project, and CIP activities in general, were well aligned to the presidential initiative to improve the food security and nutrition of all Mozambicans. He urged CIP, through the new project, to further strengthen the local capacities of people working in the sweetpotato value chain.
Other high-level government and donor representatives who attended the launch included His Excellency the Governor of Nampula Province, Mr. Victor Borges; His Excellency the Ambassador of the United States of America in Mozambique, Dr Dean Pitman; the Director General of IIAM, Dr. Olga Faftine; dignitaries from the USAID mission in Mozambique and several partner organizations. CIP was represented by the Regional Director for sub Saharan Africa, Dr. Adiel Mbabu; Mozambique Country Manager, Dr Maria Andrade and the Sweetpotato Program Leader, Dr Simon Heck.
CIP-IIAM partnership: role model for technology transfer
Welcoming the dignitaries, Dr. Andrade emphasized the enormous contributions by the Government of Mozambique and USAID over the past 20 years to establish and facilitate the work of CIP and partners in Mozambique. Dr. Heck, on behalf of CIP Director General, thanked the Government of Mozambique and USAID for their continued support to CIP’s work. He highlighted achievements of the CIP-IIAM partnership over the years and explained the objectives and activities of the VISTA project that aims to improve nutrition and livelihoods of over 100,000 households in Nampula and Zambezia province. Dr. Faftine from IIAM expressed her pleasure and honor to host CIP Mozambique and described the partnership as a role model for crop breeding, seed system development, and agricultural technology transfer in Mozambique.
Orange-fleshed sweetpotato work applauded
The US Ambassador to Mozambique, Dr Dean Pitman, in his remarks, recalled the long collaboration between USAID and CIP in Mozambique. He commended CIP for their scientific work, in particular the achievements of the Orange-Fleshed Sweetpotato (OFSP) program, that has resulted in impact on the lives of people of Mozambique, and expressed the expectation that the VISTA project will scale out these achievements in Nampula and Zambézia. Dr. Pitman assured the guests that the USA will continue to partner with and support these kinds of initiatives that have direct impact on nutrition and livelihoods of poor people in Africa and globally.
After the official launching of the project, the dignitaries were invited to tour some of the project activities displayed in the backyard of the CIP office. Dr. Andrade briefly explained the technical approaches under the crop improvement and technology transfer programs of CIP in Mozambique. Other CIP researchers explained the seed systems, agronomy, nutrition, and food processing activities of the VISTA project and exhibited OFSP roots, vines, processed products, and extension and training material.
The dignitaries were invited to symbolically distribute some of the planting material of the CIP improved varieties to local farmers. There was a symbolic traditional cutting of a “VISTA cake”, that was led by the IIAM Director General, Dr. Olga Faftine. Dignitaries received special CIP made gifts and appreciations.
Inauguration of the new CIP office – photos
Report by Simon Heck and Maria Andrade.Editing by Vivian Atakos.