Pr. Bassirou Bonfoh "With this award, we gave the opportunity to the three winners to come and stay in CSRS (...) to learn, exchange and build their capacity"

Under the sialo a "competition for promotion of excellence in food research" was organized with the support of GIZ and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. Three Togolese students are winners and have a support for two weeks at Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire (CSRS) based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Its Managing Director Dr Bassirou Bonfoh explains the role of the Center in promoting agriculture and the reasons for his involvement in this contest.

What motivated the CSRS to support this SIALO competition?
The CSRS is an old center that was established in 1951. It operates in the sectors of health, biodiversity and agriculture. We work at the interface of these sectors. Although being in the Ivory Coast, we have a regional mandate, we are helping to develop partnerships with the countries of the subregion. And Togo, the country where I come from is a priority country where we want to develop a number of things. This is to promote higher education and research. So we took the opportunity of SIALO to see what touch can we bring to the development of agriculture and food processing. This is what leads us. After the invitation, we can identify sectors and together with the Commissioner of SIALO and the University of Lomé, initiate the first competition for students who do research in agriculture and agribusiness. This contest will allow primer three (03) students on their project and try to develop their PhD or Master project. And this will help them demonstrate their project innovative project on topics that are carriers for the country. With this award, we have given the opportunity for these three winners to come and stay at the CSRS in Côte d'Ivoire to learn, exchange and build their capacity. It's a two-week stay we offer and we will see what this will bring in the future.

Why this innovation?
The innovation is that you see in agriculture, research has always been shelved while technological advances are conducted today through research. So we want to reconnect scientific research with farmers to quickly go to food self-sufficiency and nutrition. An agricultural show can not be done only with farmers, research should provide solutions to problems not only farmers but all those in the agricultural sector.

Are research products competitive on the market?
The products can be competitive. In our approach, the first action, we say that we must first have the market. When you have a market and you have what the market wants, you can then develop the product and the desired quality. The fair is an opportunity to come and see what is possible and the opportunities that can be produced in Togo and from there the producers can make choices and research can accompany them.

What are the criteria in terms of competitiveness?
Competitiveness is measured at two levels of quality and price. There is no problem now, Togolese products are very competitive. In terms of quality, this is where we should mainly focus and that's why the show is promoting the packaging and the intrinsic quality of products for consumers.

A label "Made in Togo", what can be done for its sustainability?
The quality label is not decreed. There are national committees working to give them different labels and requires that processors and farmers are committed and willing to go to this label because these are certificates that give and maintain throughout the life cycle of a product.

Thank you Mr. Bonfoh

Interviewed by Anderson AKUE

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