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The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) was established by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations in 1967 in Ibadan, Nigeria. My association with Nigeria started in 1971-72 when IITA had become part of CGIAR and I was sent to study why there had not been much progress in agriculture. As Vice Chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee to the CGIAR (TAC), I played an important role in strengthening agriculture research in Nigeria.

Later in 1976, during military rule in the country, General Obasanjo asked me to conduct a course at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria in Topo, a town in Badagry, Lagos. I ran a two-week course on organisational scientific research for all the top agricultural officers, which was much appreciated. I recommended the setting up of an Agricultural Research Council that patterned the ICAR. Gen. Obasanjo accepted all my recommendations, including giving the status of secretary to the government to the DG of the institute as it was in India.

I remember my stay in Topo for another reason. In those days Nigeria was in lack of rice. One meal used to be with cassava, the root from which tapioca starch is extracted. The African lady who ran the kitchen in the place where I was staying was very concerned that there was no variety in the dishes she was serving me. She actually learnt some Indian recipes using cassava for my sake. I will never forget her kindness.