Fostering Agricultural Transformation: Dr. Vincent Aduramigba-Modupe’s Journey with CALA

Dr. Vincent Aduramigba Modupe, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, is a staunch advocate for building stronger bridges between scientific research and policy-making in Nigeria’s agriculture sector.

“In my view,” he begins, “the greatest opportunities in Nigerian agriculture lie in our fertile lands, diverse climates, and the energetic spirit of our people. With these resources, we have the potential to not only meet our own food needs but to also contribute significantly to global food security.”

However, he is quick to point out the challenges that lay in the way. “Bio-physical constraints, such as erratic rainfall patterns, soil infertility, and pest infestations, pose significant hurdles. But even these can be overcome through scientific research and technology. The real issue is the disconnect between our scientific knowledge and its application on the ground.”

Dr. Modupe laments the fact that much of the valuable research conducted in Nigeria’s academic institutions never makes it into the hands of farmers and decision-makers who could put it to good use. He points to weak linkages between the scientific community and policy-makers as the root of the problem.

To bridge this gap, Dr. Modupe champions the development of leaders in agriculture at all levels, from small-scale farmers to high-ranking officials. “Strategic leadership in the agricultural sector is crucial,” he explains. “It’s about establishing a framework for integration within the National Agricultural Technology Innovation Policy (NATIP) and communicating key messages to policy-makers and strategic stakeholders.”

For Dr. Modupe, these agricultural leaders will serve as the linchpin in bringing science-led management innovations to scale through value chain development within Nigeria’s agricultural sector. They will ensure that research does not gather dust on academic shelves but rather finds its way to the fields, farms, and marketplaces where it can make a real difference.

“Ultimately,” Dr. Modupe says, “the future of Nigerian agriculture lies in the hands of these leaders. And through their efforts, I am confident that we will see a transformed agricultural landscape, one that is resilient, sustainable, and prosperous for all.”

 Dr. Modupe’s journey, the Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA) holds a significant place. His decision to participate in CALA stemmed from his rich background and ambition to further hone his skills.

“As a developmental soil scientist with over 23 years of experience in sustainable agriculture, I have always been passionate about contributing to the improvement of agricultural productivity in Nigeria,” he says. His work, he explains, involves providing science-based knowledge to policy-makers and strategic partners, helping to navigate the complex interrelationships within agricultural systems.

However, Dr. Modupe found himself driven to seek new heights in his professional development. “I wanted to upscale my skills in the development and generation of demand-driven technologies. These technologies should be environmentally sound, technically appropriate, economically viable, and socially acceptable in Nigeria for sustainable food security.”

CALA offered him the perfect platform to achieve this. Through CALA, he hoped to acquire new skills and insights that would enhance his ability to generate such technologies. It was also the opportunity to share this knowledge with others that intrigued him.

His eyes light up as he mentions his “strong passion” for disseminating the skills he has acquired through learning workshops. “Sharing knowledge across the agro-value chain in Nigeria is just as important as acquiring it. By empowering others, we can multiply the impact of our efforts and pave the way for a brighter future for Nigerian agriculture.”

Thus, participating in CALA was more than just an opportunity for personal growth for Dr. Modupe; it was a chance to uplift the agricultural sector in his country to new heights of sustainability and productivity. Through his dedication and relentless pursuit of knowledge, he is setting a shining example for agricultural leaders everywhere.

Reflecting on his time before and during the CALA Advanced Leadership Program (ALP), Dr. Modupe shares a transformative journey that reshaped his perspective and approach towards his work in agriculture.

“Before CALA ALP,” Dr. Modupe begins, “I was primarily focused on research and development from an academic perspective, working somewhat on the periphery of the food systems.” His experience was rich but somewhat siloed. While his work was contributing to scientific knowledge, he felt a sense of disconnect from the direct, on-the-ground impact he yearned to achieve.

“We live in demanding and changing times,” he emphasizes. “Agriculture faces a multitude of complex, interconnected challenges with profound implications on productivity. These challenges require a new paradigm shift, one that fosters deliberate partnerships and teamwork at all levels.”

And it was at the CALA ALP where he found the catalyst for this shift. “During the program, my role evolved dramatically. It broadened beyond the lab and the field, into the realm of fostering collaboration between and among various stakeholders. I began to connect resources directly to food systems and sustainable agricultural development,” he explains.

Dr. Modupe’s experience with CALA ALP challenged him, not just as a scientist, but as a leader. He was encouraged to become a champion for a systems approach to agriculture, tasked with the mission of realizing this vision not just in Nigeria, but across the whole of Africa.

“The CALA ALP wasn’t just a leadership program,” Dr. Modupe concludes. “It was an awakening, a call to action to step out of the conventional sphere and lead the charge towards a more holistic, sustainable, and inclusive agriculture sector.”

Dr. Modupe’s participation in the CALA Advanced Leadership Program had a profound and lasting impact on both his personal and professional trajectories.

“The program expanded my horizon in systems thinking,” he shares, reflecting on his personal growth. “Through collaboration and partnership, I learned the importance of multi-stakeholder engagement. I was challenged to champion successful partnerships, mapping key actors in relevant government agencies, research institutions, and other stakeholders, not just in Nigeria, but also beyond our borders.”

This newfound perspective and skills set didn’t just change his approach to his work; they propelled his career to new heights. Dr. Modupe now leads the National Soil Survey and Soil Fertility Mapping of Nigeria, a program under the umbrella of the Agricultural Climate Change Management Services Department of the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. This role, central to the nation’s agriculture policy and practice, is a testament to his capability and influence as a leader.

“The CALA ALP was more than just a leadership program to me; it was a stepping stone,” he continues. “It enriched my career in ways I hadn’t anticipated. In recognition of my growth and contributions, I’ve been put up for promotion to a full professorial chair.”

The ALP, it seems, didn’t just impact Dr. Modupe; it transformed him. It equipped him with a wider perspective, a richer set of skills, and a more profound sense of purpose. And in doing so, it reinforced his commitment to transforming Nigerian agriculture and, in turn, the possibility of positively impacting the lives of millions.

The lessons Dr. Modupe learned from CALA have not only shaped his perspective but have also found tangible application in his work. A blend of practical and theoretical courses, such as problem-solving, setting goals for success, influencing others, and building a great team, provided him with valuable tools he now uses daily.

“My experiences at CALA equipped me with the ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds,” he explains. “I learned to navigate the complexities of different perspectives and to communicate effectively in a team environment. These skills have been instrumental in my current roles.”

Dr. Modupe shares three key projects which he has applied his CALA learnings:

First, the Horizon 2020 research proposal entitled “Integrated Nitrogen Studies in Africa,” funded by the European Commission. “Working with 15 institutions in Africa and Europe to build a vibrant research network among academics, both experienced and early career researchers, has been an exciting and challenging endeavor. I used the problem-solving and team-building skills I learned at CALA to bring together and manage this diverse team,” he shares.

The second project involves the formulation of specialty fertilizers for cocoa, oil palm, tomato, and wheat, catered to Nigeria’s agro-ecological zones, funded by the OCP Group. “This has been a game changer in Nigeria’s fertilizer industry. Setting clear goals and influencing others were key in the success of this project,” he points out.

Thirdly, he was s involved in a challenging project with the FMARD (Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development). “Working with civil servants and a variety of institutions in Nigeria to build a vibrant soil research network for sustainable soil management and enhanced agricultural productivity requires a careful application of all the lessons I learned from CALA. It’s been very tasking, but incredibly rewarding,” he says.

Through these initiatives, Dr. Modupe exemplifies how CALA has shaped his approach to leadership – by fostering collaboration, problem-solving, and effective communication. His journey serves as a testament to the power of CALA’s transformative influence on the leaders it nurtures.

Like any worthwhile endeavor, Dr. Modupe’s journey with CALA was not without its challenges. He encountered resistance and lack of cooperation from certain team members during the writing of the funded ALP project, a hurdle that had the potential to derail their efforts. One member, in particular, seemed to actively work against the ALP’s success.

“Dealing with such resistance was certainly challenging,” he admits. “However, one of the key principles I learned at CALA is that challenges are opportunities for growth and learning.”

Specifically, the problem-solving course at CALA was instrumental in helping him navigate these issues. “The program equipped me with a set of principles and techniques to deal with such situations effectively,” he explains. “Rather than allowing the resistance to hinder our progress, I used it as an opportunity to engage, understand differing perspectives, and find a way forward.”

He applied problem-solving techniques to understand the source of resistance, and through open communication, sought to align the team around common goals. Dr. Modupe utilized his leadership skills to turn a potential stumbling block into a stepping stone, effectively steering his team back on track.

“Challenges are inevitable in any leadership journey,” Dr. Modupe shares, “but CALA taught me that it’s not the absence of problems that defines success, but how we address and learn from them. This lesson has been invaluable in my career and personal life, and I am grateful for the growth it has facilitated.”

Dr. Modupe holds CALA in high regard, distinguishing it from other leadership programs he has experienced. “CALA’s impact is life-changing,” he asserts. “It doesn’t merely aim to produce leaders. It aims to produce champions who will lead the transformation of agricultural and food systems in Africa. The distinction lies in this ambitious, transformative vision.”

Furthermore, CALA has significantly expanded Dr. Modupe’s professional network within the African agricultural community. “Through CALA, I have connected with numerous professionals and stakeholders across the continent. These connections have opened up opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing that have greatly enriched my work,” he shares.

One such opportunity was his invitation to speak at the 2022 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), a platform that brings together stakeholders in Africa’s agricultural landscape to discuss and commit to programs, investments, and policies that can improve the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers.

“This was a significant milestone in my career,” he says. “Sharing my thoughts and experiences at a prestigious forum like the AGRF was made possible through my participation in CALA.”

For Dr. Modupe, CALA is not just a leadership program; it’s a platform for change, a community of like-minded professionals dedicated to transforming Africa’s agricultural and food systems, and a stepping stone to opportunities that have the potential to change countless lives for the better.

From addressing food security challenges to promoting data science and integrity, Dr. Modupe has applied the skills and knowledge gained from CALA in significant ways. “The use of innovation platforms and technology such as Open Data Kit (ODK) in research has been instrumental in enhancing agricultural development,” he shares. He tackled resistance to technology adoption using problem-solving techniques and trans-disciplinary approaches learned at CALA.

A particularly memorable experience for Dr. Modupe was the success of their ALP in Bauchi state. “It’s now being adopted by other government agencies as a model in public-private extension service delivery,” he says. He also fondly recalls the supportive atmosphere fostered by the AMI and AGRA teams, as well as the learning laboratories and coaching sessions.

One key takeaway from CALA for Dr. Modupe is that Africans should play a central role in solving Africa’s agricultural problems. He believes that agriculture can be a powerful driver of Africa’s economic development, moving it from potential to actual.

The CALA program has had a transformative impact on Dr. Modupe’s career trajectory. He now focuses on addressing the weakest link in Nigeria’s agricultural sector for sustainable development and has honed his leadership skills for successful partnerships and effective communication.

As a CALA alumni, Dr. Modupe pledges to contribute to the program’s continued success by being a strategic partner and champion. He is eager to be an ambassador for CALA in Africa and beyond, testifying to the program’s role in building impactful leadership across the continent.

When asked about unique knowledge or skills gained from CALA, he mentions the application of skills from the courses attended and the experience of working with team members from diverse disciplines to solve real-life national problems in Nigeria.

Summing up his CALA experience, Dr. Modupe enthuses, “CALA is building a formidable and winning team across Africa. I am happy to be part of this.”


Vincent O. Aduramigba-Modupe, PhD, is a distinguished developmental soil scientist and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Obafemi Awolowo University, located in Moor Plantation, Ibadan, Nigeria. With over 23 years of expertise in integrated soil fertility management, digital soil mapping, systems agronomy, and agricultural development, Dr. Aduramigba-Modupe has made significant contributions to the field. His research has been widely published in high-impact factor journals, showcasing his extensive knowledge and commitment to advancing agricultural practices.

Dr. Aduramigba-Modupe’s accomplishments have been recognized through numerous prestigious fellowships, including those awarded by Israeli MASHAV, German CIPSEM, Australia ALAF, and Chinese NDRC, among others. His multidisciplinary leadership skills have been demonstrated in various West African countries, where he successfully managed teams and led collaborative projects focused on soil nutrient management. Notably, he served as the Regional Coordinator of the ILWAC project, which was funded by the World Bank/CORAF and implemented in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Nigeria.

Currently, Dr. Aduramigba-Modupe is coordinating the soil mapping and formulation of specialty fertilizers for cocoa, oil palm, tomato, and wheat in Nigeria. This initiative is supported by OCP funding. Moreover, he holds the esteemed position of Nigeria team leader and steering committee member for the European Commission-approved H2020-MSCA-RISE-2019 project, Integrated Nitrogen Studies in Africa (INSA). This project brings together 15 institutions from Africa and Europe to investigate and address nitrogen-related challenges in Africa.

Additionally, Dr. Aduramigba-Modupe assumes the role of Africa Centre Director for the International Nitrogen Initiative since 2019, further highlighting his dedication to promoting sustainable nitrogen management. Furthermore, he currently serves as the President of the African Association of Precision Agriculture (AAPA) for the term of 2022 to 2024, showcasing his commitment to advancing precision agriculture practices throughout Africa.