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IITA unveils digital tools for agricultural transformation

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The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on Friday unveiled a suite digital tools that are helping in transforming farming, improving yield and livelihoods of farmers.

The digital tools include the cassava, Goseed and yam seed trackers; Akilimo, IITA Herbicide Calculator, e-commerce site and IITA News App.

Dr Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General who marks his 8year in office on Friday described the development of the digital tools as a remarkable feat, adding that they would assist in creating impact at scale.

“This aligns with our vision that led us to create the Partnership & Delivery Directorate whose responsibility is to ensure that not only are we carrying out research and writing scientific papers but also delivering and making impact on farm level,” he added.

The seed trackers are mobile platforms designed to help in seed production planning, seed traceability, seed inventory, real-time tracking of production status, seed certification, marketing, information resources, among others, Dr Lava Kumar, the IITA Head of Germplasm Health Unit and Virologist said.

The IITA Herbicide Calculator is a mobile app that was developed by the Cassava Weed Management Project and deployed across Nigeria and other African countries and is being used in controlling weeds in cassava, explained Godwin Atser, IITA Digital Extension & Advisory Services Specialist.

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“The App helps growers to estimate correct amount of herbicides to be added to knapsack sprayers, helping farmers to avoid underdosing or overdosing which leads to environmental pollution and weeds resistance,” he added.

Akilimo on the other hand, is a mobile agronomy advisory tool developed by the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) that combines weed management/best plantig, fertilizer recommendations, scheduled planting, according to Dr Christine Kreye, West Africa Coordinator for ACAI.

For the IITA News app, IITA Head of Communication, Kathy Lopez said the app captures and disseminate, in real time, news about research and delivery activities to the public.

Launching the Cassava Seed Tracker, Yam Seed Tracker, Dr Sanginga and Dr. Olusegun Ojo, Director General of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), noted that the development of the digital apps were steps in the right direction.

Among those present at the launching were Dr. Alfred Dixon, IITA Director for Development and Delivery, who called for the integration of digital tools in IITA; Dr. Paul Ilona, Country Director of HarvestPlus; and Prof. Simon Irtwange, President of the Yam Export Association of Nigeria.

While the DG of the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike, Abia State, Dr. Joseph Ukpabi was represented; Dr. Debo Akande, Executive Adviser to Oyo state Governor on Agribusiness, joined the event via telephone, assuring launchers of the tools of Governor Seyi Makinde’s support and readiness to make IITA a partner in his agribusiness plan for the state.

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Nigerian physician, Funsho named one of TIME’s most influential people in the world

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TIME named Nigerian physician, Dr. Tunji Funsho to the 2020 TIME100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The list, now in its seventeenth year, recognizes the activism, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.

Dr. Funsho, a cardiologist based in Lagos, Nigeria, is the first Rotary member to receive this honor for the organization’s work to eradicate polio, having played an essential role in ensuring Africa’s certification as wild polio-free in August of 2020.

“I’m honored to be recognized by TIME for my part in ensuring that no child in Africa will ever again be paralyzed by wild polio, a disease that once disabled 75,000 African children every single year,” said Dr. Funsho. “Eradicating the wild poliovirus in Africa was a team effort that required the cooperation and dedication of governments, partners, Rotary members, hundreds of thousands of health workers, and countless parents who chose to have their children vaccinated against polio.”

As the leader of Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, Funsho has worked alongside Rotary members throughout the country to raise awareness about the importance of polio immunization, encouraged governments and public figures to support polio eradication, and served as a vocal leader and advocate for Rotary’s fight to end polio in Africa.

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Dr. Funsho works closely with Rotary’s partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI): the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. As a member of Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force on Polio, he has coordinated immunization and advocacy campaigns with the Minister of State for Health and the Inter-Agency Coordination Committee for Polio Eradication. He has also worked closely with the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, the Dangote Foundation, the Traditional Leaders Council and the Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria.

In August 2019, Nigeria reached three years without a case of wild poliovirus. Nigeria’s progress, led by Rotary, its GPEI partners and local and national governments, was the result of decades of sustained efforts, including domestic and international financing, the commitment of hundreds of thousands of health workers, and innovative strategies to immunize children who previously couldn’t be reached due to insecurity in the country’s northern states.

On 25 August, the African region was certified wild polio-free. This historic announcement means that five of the WHO’s six regions, representing more than 90 percent of the world’s population, are now free of the wild poliovirus. The virus is now endemic in just two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Rotary’s nearly 32,000 members in Africa have played a critical role in helping the region achieve its wild polio-free status by holding events to raise funds and awareness for polio, and working with world governments and national and local leaders to secure funding and support for polio eradication.

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Lagos govt. approves full reopening of churches, mosques

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The Lagos state government on Saturday approved the full reopening of worship centres in the state.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who announced this during a briefing in the state said churches are now allowed to observe their mid-week services, while the mosques are also allowed to carry out their five times a day prayer routine, with strict compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols.

“We must not forget that the coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us, and we must, therefore, strive to prioritize the safety of all our children, teachers, parents, and the entire society,” the governor said.

Before now, the state had allowed for a gradual re-opening of places of worship as lockdowns eased.

With the full re-opening now, the governor has urged Lagosians to continue to act responsibly and maintain the required levels of hygiene.

Some other parts of the world have witnessed a resurgence of COVID-19 infections and rising possibilities of “hard lockdowns”, which according to Governor Sanwo-Olu may become inevitable for Nigerians if caution is not applied.

“Let me make it clear that if we do not continue to maintain our guard, and sustain the adherence to all required protocols and guidelines, we will find ourselves in a situation where fresh lockdowns are inevitable,” he warned.

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“The only way to avoid this is to continue to act responsibly: maintain the required levels of hygiene, through regular handwashing and use of sanitizers, wear masks in all public places, avoid non-essential public gatherings, and maintain the prescribed levels of physical distancing at all times”.

The total infections in the country have now risen to 56,956, with 48,305 patients recovered and 1,094 deaths recorded.

At the onset of the virus in Nigeria, Lagos became the epicenter, gapping other states with its case load despite frantic efforts to curb the spread.

However, in recent times, other states such as Plateau have started to witness a surge with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 stating that it might become the new epicenter in the country.

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Photos: Oyo deputy gov. donates patrol motorcycles to security operatives

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The deputy governor of Oyo state, Engr. Raufu Olaniyan on Friday made a personal donation of patrol motorcycles to security operatives in Oke Ogun area of the state to boost their role of ensuring the safety of lives and properties.

Speaking at the event, Olaniyan noted  that Security is one of the cardinal objectives of the present administration headed by Governor Seyi Makinde, adding that the government has invested massively to provide facilities and equipment for security operatives in the state to perform their roles.

Speaking further, the deputy governor remarked that ” In the light of the security challenges in the country, it is imperative that we support the government in tackling this malady. It was therefore a delight for me to donate patrol motorcycles, from my purse, to the various security outfits operating in the Oke Ogun area of our state.”

He stressed that security matters should be the responsibility of all and not the government alone.

Olaniyan, however , urged well meaning individuals and lovers of peace to support the government in creating a safe and conducive environment for growth.

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