SILT Partners Draw New Roadmap

The SILT workshop participants from left; Monica Kansiime (CABI); Irene Mvena (CABI); Abigael Mchana (CABI); Renee Bullock (IITA); Paul Dontsop (IITA); Dannie Romney (CABI); Godlove Nderingo (FRI); Silvia Silvestri (CABI-GALA); Freddy Baijukya (IITA); Karen Hampson (FRI);

The Scaling-up Improved Legumes Technology (SILT) project partners held a workshop to conceive manuscripts in the content of SILT, to develop guidelines for selection of effective dissemination approaches of SILT and to design the SILT outcome evaluation.

The Seminar was held at the IITA Central African Hub offices at ICIPE campus Nairobi with the participation of Fredrick Baijukya, Paul Dontsop, Renee Bullock and Irene Mvena from IITA; James Watiti, Monica Kansiime, Silvia Silvestri from CABI; and Karen Hampson and Godlove Nderingo from Farm Radio International (FRI).

Speaking at the end of the seminar, IITA’s Fredrick Baijukya said the workshop was successful and they had achieved all the objectives on the agenda.

“We now have the outlines for the 4 manuscripts on how we want to write them and the same for the guidelines for selecting extension communication methods” says Baijukya.

The group developed the outcome evaluation questionnaire, the activity which is planned to take place in August this year. The team also came up with titles for the manuscripts and the guidelines for the selection of effective dissemination approaches that are slated to be submitted by March 2018.

SILT is a three-year project funded by IDRC to produce geographically-specific information campaigns, targeting small-scale farming families, delivered just ahead of the legume planting seasons. It is jointly implemented by CABI, AFAP, IITA, FRI and a number International and National organization for scaling agricultural technologies

Read more about SILT http://africasoilhealth.cabi.org/about-ashc/ashc/silt/

Accelerating scaling in the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI)

 

Scaling readiness workshop group photo from left, Veronica Uzokwe, Guillaume Ezui, Murat Sartas, Marc Schut, Christine Kreye, Abdulai Jalloh, Rebeca Enesi, Pieter Pypers and Stefan Hauser.

The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) team met in Ibadan, Nigeria on 24 and 25 April 2017 to discuss approaches, tools and strategies that can support scaling in ACAI. The workshop brought together two teams, that together seek to support scaling in IITA.

The ACAI team aims to promote cassava agronomy at scale, while the Scaling Readiness team supporting research for development(R4D) projects in achieving their scaling objectives.

The workshop provided a forum for the Scaling Readiness team to improve the validity and applicability of their tools to better support R4D projects like ACAI in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of their scaling strategy. ACAI has been selected as one of the four projects that the Scaling Readiness team will collaborate with developing and calibrating the tools.

“Developing Scaling Readiness tools with ACAI is crucial for ensuring that the data and analysis have high validity in terms of informing scaling strategies. ACAI is committed to making their products and approaches work for farmers, governments and private sector, and their leadership is very supportive in developing and testing the tools” says Dr. Marc Schut who is co-leading the Scaling Readiness work. Mr. Murat Sartas, who has introduced the Scaling Readiness concept in the agricultural research for development domain, goes even further in mentioning that he expects that “eventually Scaling Readiness will be used to monitor and evaluate impact of research for development interventions at project, research program and institute level.”

According to Dr. Pieter Pypers, Senior Agronomist ACAI, the Scaling Readiness work will help ACAI to identify and overcome scaling challenges that had not been anticipated otherwise as well as expand the thinking about ACAI innovations and their use. Dr. Abdulai Jalloh, project leader, extols Scaling Readiness for agricultural innovation as a necessary and timely approach for ACAI that will offer insight in better ways of scaling ACAI innovations and drive the project towards impact.

Murat Sartas gives a presentation during the Scaling Readiness workshop

The Scaling Readiness concept has been spearheaded by Dr. Marc Schut, Prof. Cees Leeuwis and Murat Sartas who fulfill (joint) positions with IITA and Wageningen University. The Scaling Readiness work is supported through the CGIAR Research Program on Roots Tubers and Bananas (RTB), which seeks to accelerate the scaling of RTB innovations – such as those developed under the ACAI project – to improve livelihoods across the world.

More information about Scaling Readiness can be accessed:

Twitter: @ScalingReady

ResearchGate:  Enhancing Scaling Readiness of Root, Tubers and Banana (RTB) Innovations

“Big brothers” come back to IITA for commercialization

Reconnection and commercialization met on 1820 October when Dr Moctar Touré from Senegal, and Mr Birama Sidibé from Mali, long-time friends of IITA DG Nteranya Sanginga, visited Ibadan to initiate a partnershipsupport relationship with the Institute that would benefit many start-up businesses in Africa.

Picture of DG Sanginga welcoming his old friends.
DG Sanginga welcoming his old friends.

The duo were warmly received by DG Sanginga, who gleefully welcomed his old friend Touré, with whom he had interacted in the past around African agricultural research for development.

“I am very pleased to see you again

after a long time, and knowing that you want to partner with IITA as a private sector actor is delightful news. Your interest is clearly in line with IITA’s vision in terms of engaging the private sector and extending the products of IITA research to the end users,” said DG Sanginga.

Corroborating DG Sanginga’s stance, Mr Sidibé said IITA has helped many private sector organizations grow.

“There is only one door to knock on for opportunities, technical excellence, and high technology: IITA’s door. We are pleased with the leadership vision here and seek a strategic partnership, mentorship, and training from IITA,” he said.

Dr Touré expressed his aspiration for a winwin partnership with IITA. “It is important to note that we are looking for a winwin partnership with IITA, the sort of partnership that will open new doors and opportunities for many start-up businesses, similar to the one we are initiating back home,” he disclosed.

The duo went on a tour around IITA that showcased various interventions and technologies. They described the tour as impressive and fascinating, and applauded DG Sanginga for the rapid growth of the Institute.

Dr Touré is currently a member of the Senegalese National Academy of Sciences, the African Academy of Sciences, and the Global Science Academy. He was a former World Bank Executive and chair of the Africa Harvest’s Board of Directors. Mr Sidibé, on the other hand, is an executive of AGROBIOTECH (Bamako, Mali) and was a former Director of Shelter Africa, and former VP of the Islamic Development Bank. They are both engaged in setting up a commercial propagation tissue culture lab with the capacity to supply commercial farmers in the ECOWAS region with certified drought- and disease-resistant planting materials.

 

DG Sanginga: I didn’t want to be a farmer…

In the July edition of the monthly E-Magazine of the World Farmers’ Organization F@rmletter, DG Nteranya Sanginga revealed that crude agricultural practices made the sector unattractive to him as a young boy in the DR Congo.

Picture of DG Sanginga
DG Sanginga

“As a farm boy growing up in the DR Congo, I have experienced and seen how farming can be a backbreaking and labor-intensive chore for my family and the millions of African smallholder farmers. That’s why I chose not to be a farmer,” DG Sanginga recounted.

But thanks to modernization, DG Sanginga says he is fulfilled today working in the sector, assisting young men and women to create profitable business ventures from agriculture and helping to better the lives of millions of smallholder farmers around the world dependent on the sector to eke out a living.

He also said the rich climatic and arable land endowments of sub-Saharan Africa are resources that could be channeled to make agriculture more innovative, exciting, and profitable.

DG Sanginga emphasized the need for the youth to dominate the agricultural value chains, noting that for a sector that feeds the world and ensures food and nutrition security, the involvement of vibrant young men and women should be unquestioned.

He cited the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) as ambassadors of the sort of change that modern-day agricultural practices require and said that the IYA model is a testament that when empowered, young people can turn a seemingly unattractive venture into a goldmine.

DG Sanginga enjoined relevant stakeholders, policymakers, and communities to rise up to the challenge and to support, promote, and replicate the model.

He also prescribed that stakeholders should provide institutional support, training, access to finance, land, favorable policies, programs and infrastructures that would enable the youth to see farming as a business and also motivate them to take up agriculture on a commercial scale.

He concluded by advising that “there should be a determined effort to ensure that the younger generations tap into the potentials of agriculture. That is the only way we can save the agriculture sector, ensure food security, and increase agricultural productivity when our ageing farmers are gone.” Read the full feature here.

 

DG Sanginga lauds IITA-Kano staff during visit

DG Nteranya Sanginga paid a courtesy visit to IITA Kano station on 27 July to monitor ongoing projects and research activities. During his welcome meeting, the DG congratulated staff members for their hard work and efforts in making IITA what it is today. He stressed that his priority is staff wellbeing but emphasized that duties should be handled diligently. He spoke about his game-changing strategies and his four major initiatives, which are the Business Incubation Platform, working with the African Development Bank, the IITA Youth Agripreneurs, and R4D. He also encouraged IITA Kano to have an identity. In his words he said “the world should know what Kano station stands for”.

Picture of DG Nteranya Sanginga (left) is shown the recent research developments within IITA-Kano campus
DG Nteranya Sanginga (left) is shown the recent research developments within IITA-Kano campus.

The DG was taken around the station to see improvements, developments, and some of the research carried out within the campus. He was taken to the new building and offices, then to an ongoing research on the effect of shade on cowpea and backcrosses of some selected varieties of cowpea.

DG Sanginga was also accompanied to Minjibir Local Government Area of the state to see some more research being undertaken by scientists. He commended every effort towards research which is targeted for development and proffered advice on some of the plots. On the Agripreneurs tomato fields, he encouraged the use of a greenhouse to check and regulate disease/pest infestations while he requested a business plan for the Livestock farm.

Sanginga to stay on as DG until 2021, IITA BoT confirms

Picture of DG Sanginga.
DG Sanginga.

Through an email circulated to all IITA staff by Bruce Coulman, Chair of the IITA Board of Trustees (BoT), on 28 July, the IITA BoT has officially confirmed the acceptance of Nteranya Sanginga of its offer for an additional five years at the helm of the Institute.

In his communication, the BoT Chair said, “on behalf of the Board of Trustees of IITA, I am pleased to announce that Nteranya Sanginga has accepted our offer of an additional five-year term as Director General, beginning 1 November 2016.”

“IITA has undergone a period of unprecedented growth in its science capacity under Sanginga’s first five years of leadership. The Board is looking forward to working with the DG on the many new initiatives under way that will strengthen IITA’s position as the leading agricultural research institute to address the problems of hunger and poverty in Africa.”

The whole IITA community joins the BoT in wishing DG Sanginga another fruitful term as head of IITA.

What would ensure the success of job creation in agribusiness in Africa?

Last 23 May, I was invited as one of the speakers at the panel discussion on ‘Jobs for women and young people’ which was co-hosted by INCLUDE at the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Lusaka, Zambia. The panel was composed of high-powered women in the African research and development arena that includes Ms Yana Watson Kakar (Global Managing Parner, Dalberg), Ms Ada Osakwe (CEO, Agrolay Ventures), Ms Jacqueline Novogratz (CEO, Acumen), and Dr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg (Director General, Africa Women in Agriculture and Research and Development, AWARD). I spoke on how the boundless opportunities in agricultural value chains and the existence of untapped resources, such as the youth, can provide the much needed impetus to drive the next wave of development in Africa. I also stressed the importance of having an enabling environment that will ensure that agriculture creates the business opportunities and decent employment along the various value chains for the millions of unemployed youth in Africa.

Picture of IITA Youth Agripreneurs using technology to enhance their work in the field.
IITA Youth Agripreneurs using technology to enhance their work in the field.

What is needed at this stage is to change the mindset of young men and women towards agriculture and make it a more attractive profession. For many young people in Africa, agriculture represents an unprofitable sector that requires a lot of hard, back-breaking work. Agriculture needs the energy and skills of the youth to add value to the sector and turn it into a vibrant, successful, and fully commercial enterprise. Our IITA Youth Agripreneurs, for example, have shown how a change in perception towards agriculture could make a graduate of history the best maize grower in northern Nigeria, and another graduate of communication and media studies one of the most lucrative catfish farmers in Ibadan, Nigeria. Matched with opportunity, I believe that this mindset change will help transform agriculture and result in productivity growth and job creation. Capacity development in agricultural techniques and business enterprise is another requirement for successful job creation in agribusiness. Training and skills development will ensure the integration of young women and men in agriculture, who could be trained on modern farming, agricultural-based entrepreneurship, and marketing. Through ENABLE Youth, the new program supported by the African Development Bank, incubation centers will be created for youths to learn and exchange practical ideas and will help nurture youth-led start-ups. Using the youth-to-youth approach in experiential learning will help ensure participation during the incubation period.

Picture of IITA Youth Agripreneurs at soybean seeds harvest point at Mokwa, Niger State
IITA Youth Agripreneurs in soybean seed harvest point at Mokwa, Niger State

 Also, networking among the youths is needed to establish a network for knowledge management. Under the ENABLE-Nigeria Program, this network will be formalized and expanded, and will focus upon mechanisms used by youth, such as internet sites and social media, to rapidly exchange and adapt needed information resources.  Institutional and financial support from both the private and public sectors will also help maximize opportunities for young people, strengthen their capacities, and facilitate their access to productive resources needed to drive broad-based growth to enhance agricultural productivity. Support can be in the form of loans, grants, mentoring; advocacy through awareness creation; and an enabling policy environment for the agribusiness enterprise to thrive. Technical backstopping, monitoring, and evaluation to keep track of the challenges, progress, and successes made during the incubation will help provide insights into the challenges of running agribusiness enterprises.

Picture of IITA Youth Agripreneurs with plantain.
IITA Youth Agripreneurs with produce plantain planting materials in the greenhouse.

I enjoin all stakeholders – governments, international and national organizations, the private sector, civil society, social groups, and parents – to help ensure the success of job creation in agribusiness through our youths.

DG Sanginga visits new Southern Africa Hub Campus

On 24 May, IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga was at the new Southern Africa Research and Administration Hub (SARAH) campus at Kabangwe, Lusaka Province, Zambia, touring the facility and interacting with staff based there. The visit to the campus coincided with the attendance of the DG to the 2016 African Development Bank (AfDB) annual conference held in Lusaka on 23-27 May, during which he also delivered a presentation about the IITA-led TAAT program and the African youth-in-agriculture initiative.

Picture of David Chikoye (right) giving DG Sanginga a tour of IITA SARAH’s main research and administration block
David Chikoye (right) giving DG Sanginga a tour of IITA SARAH’s main research and administration block

The DG’s visit came on the heels of similar visits by the DDG for Research-for-Development, Ylva Hillbur, the previous week and by the DDG for Corporate Services, Kwame Akuffo-Akoto, two weeks ago.

The DG was welcomed to SARAH by David Chikoye, IITA Director for Southern Africa. Along with other scientists and staff, Chikoye showed DG Sanginga around the campus, briefing him about the various on-campus research and administration facilities. The DG also met some members of the Zambia IITA Youth Agripreneurs, who were on site for a training activity.

Picture of The DG greeting some IITA-Zambia staff
The DG greeting some IITA-Zambia staff

“Congratulations on your new ‘home’,” DG Sanginga told staff. “This new facility is a testament to our commitment to our

R4D work in this country and in this region. Basically, we are saying that IITA is here to stay for the long term,” added the DG.

“I remember when I first visited Zambia as IITA DG and donors were asking me where our research facilities were as they were looking for proof that we are not some fly-by-night entity. I promised them that we will be investing and building our facilities here. Although it took some time, that promise is now a reality,” DG Sanginga recounted.

“As the first step [of building this campus] has been taken, we now need to look forward to increasing and improving the facilities and services that we offer,” Sanginga added. He enumerated, among other things, the addition of laboratories, a youth training center, and Business Incubation Platform (BIP) units as priority plans for SARAH.

“I have also received inquiries from other CGIAR centers operating in Zambia about the possibility of having their offices hosted here [at SARAH],” DG Sanginga revealed. “I am confident that this will happen, just like in Ibadan, but we do have to build this campus up first to its full potential as a state-of-the-art agricultural research campus as contained in the SARAH Master Plan. We will achieve this,” he assured everyone.

At the meeting with IITA-Zambia staff, the DG also hinted at plans for his second term as IITA chief if the Board of Trustees approves.

“When I first started as IITA DG, the Institute’s budget was about US$40+ million. Today, it is almost triple that amount. We have also almost doubled the number of our scientists and support staff. These are despite the numerous budget cuts from the CGIAR and shifting donor priorities, which normally would have resulted in the reverse.”

“If I continue on as DG, I would have to raise the bar even higher―doubling IITA funding and staffing from what we already have today, and continuing to improve and add more infrastructure across the regions to support our R4D work in Africa,” he stressed.

“To this end, I ask for your cooperation and help in making sure that we, as an institute, continue with our successes,” he concluded.

Structural reforms underline IITA’s commitment to excellence

The Institute has announced a new organizational structure aimed at addressing longstanding operational deficiencies and providing a broader range of support within IITA and across projects.

The changes were announced by Director General Nteranya Sanginga as part of several decisions reached at the recently concluded meeting of the Board of Trustees (BOT) in Kalambo, DR Congo on 11-14 May.

Picture of DG Sanginga
DG Sanginga

The BOT approved a revised budget of US$ 143 million up from US$ 138 million and reaffirmed that instead of the IITA annual R4D week, the focal point this year will be on Partnerships for Delivery (P4D) with a strong emphasis on the massive opportunities and accomplishments of the Business Incubation Platform (BIP) and youth programs. The Institute will also press on with ongoing preparations for marking its 50th anniversary.

Also approved was the Institute’s Code of Conduct which provides guidelines to staff and all associates on standards of professional conduct and ethical choices to be made in the performance of duties and in the course of their relationship with IITA.

According to DG Sanginga, the CGIAR is transitioning and the modality for instituting a new system of government within the CG is now being set.

“Reports from Bruce Coulman, BOT Chair, on the CGIAR meeting in Rome show that the CGIAR is transitioning. There is a decision by donors and centers to establish a two tier system of governance; the Systems Council -consisting mainly of donors, and a System Management Board- consisting mostly of centers with a Systems Management Office run by an Executive Director responsible to the System Management Board for executing his/her functions. Under these new arrangements there will be only one CGIAR office to be located in Montpellier and considerably more interaction between the different entities of the system. All centers have been asked to nominate candidates for the System Management Board and IITA will follow with a nomination.”

The organizational reforms are a reflection of changes in the size, scope, and strategic thrust of the Institute and will help streamline decision making, foster greater integration and synergy across projects, strengthen relationships with partner organizations, and create a nimble and dynamic Institute better able to deliver its mandate.

As part of the restructuring, Hubs will be afforded a greater level of autonomy becoming in essence, self-governing and self-accounting entities with Directors having full responsibility for staffing decisions. This would give them the flexibility required to effectively carry out their functions.

To ensure a greater alignment with priorities and objectives of partner organizations to achieve shared goals, a Director for Systems and Site Integration will be appointed with the responsibility of facilitating collaboration with partners and ensuring that all IITA projects share a common thread that enables them to function as a coordinated whole.

Further changes include the merger of the Project Development Office and Project Administration Office into a unit within the Research Support Directorate. The Directorate will have oversight functions over a number of units and will work to enhance the visibility of the Institute, provide institutional support through data and information management as well as ensure improved project administration, monitoring and evaluation. Furthermore, the Institute will also recruit two new Financial Controllers to oversee operations in the Finance Directorate. This would enable the Finance Director to focus on strategy and long-term financial planning and work on establishing a self-regulating independent financial framework for the Hubs and Stations.

The Institute has placed renewed emphasis on strengthening relationships with donor organizations and agencies to enable improved delivery of agricultural technological solutions with market potential. To this end, the Partnerships and Capacity Development Directorate will be renamed Partnerships for Delivery (P4D) to better reflect this evolution in strategy. The Directorate will house the entrepreneurial and capacity development units of the Institute such as the Business Incubation Platform (BIP), Youth in Agribusiness, Capacity Development, Delivery and Development, and the newly instituted Mechanization initiative aimed at managing IITA’s mechanization programs and increasing the level of mechanization in agricultural operations in Africa.

In addition, a Clearinghouse will be established primarily for coordination of the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) and ENABLE youth programs of the African Development Bank as well as other World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) development programs involving broad partnerships and spanning a large number of countries.

The Clearinghouse will be led by a DDG and will be headed by Kwame Akuffo-Akoto who leaves his position as Deputy Director General Corporate Services (DDG CS). The newly vacant DDG CS position will be advertised in due course and together with the Head of the Clearinghouse will be tasked with overseeing the proposed reforms.

These structural reforms will be implemented in a phased manner from June 2016 and is expected to cost around US$0.5 million.

Changing fortunes of farmers and empowering women in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania through legumes

20160311_163804While it is the number one cash crop for most farmers in Tanzania, maize is getting a serious run for its money from legumes such as beans, groundnut, and soybean which are becoming commercial crops in the cool and hilly terrain of the Southern Highlands. In addition, legumes are also good for tackling malnutrition and soil infertility as they are a cheap source of protein and are able to fix nitrogen from the air into the soils.

This turn of events is being fueled firstly by many years of collaboration between farmers and Tanzanian and international research institutions,  a range of development partners, and the private sector that has seen the development and dissemination of improved varieties and good agronomic practices enabling farmers to increase their legume yield by up to four times.

These include the government funded Uyole Agricultural Research Institute with technical backstopping from international research organizations such as the ), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA),  International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT)and Wageningen University; development NGOs such One Acre Fund and Farm Inputs Promotion Services (FIPS)  and support from the Tanzanian Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

And secondly, a ready market within and in the neighboring countries of Zambia, DR Congo, Malawi, and as far down as South Africa.

On a recent visit to the region, we met a number of farmers whose fortunes have greatly changed and their livelihoods improved as a result of growing legumes.

Daudi Bukuku – from borrowing soap to a respectable bean expert

Daudi Bukuku, accompanied by his wife explaining on the benefits he has reaped from cultivating beans
Daudi Bukuku, accompanied by his wife explaining the benefits he has reaped from cultivating beans

Daudi Bukuku, a charming 38-year-old farmer has seen his life turnaround from at one time not being able to afford to buy soap for his family to being able to purchase and install a biogas plant at his home reducing the drudgery and time spent by his wife looking for firewood. All thanks to beans.

“Before starting this improved farming of beans, I used to harvest 200 kg of beans from an acre. Life was hard and I was struggling to even buy soap for my family. However, everything changed when I was invited for a training at ARI Uyole on improved farming methods for  beans and also received new, improved varieties to try,” Daudi says.

“I learned proper spacing, proper use of fertilizers, and how to harvest and store my crop. I applied everything I had learned and now my yield is up to 700 to 800 kg per acre. My life is so much better as you can see. I have even managed to buy livestock. I have cows, pigs, and chickens. I have also been able to install a biogas plant that converts the waste from my livestock into gas for cooking. I am no longer destroying the environment for firewood. And my wife now respects me as I have made her life easy. She is not struggling with cooking. In twenty minutes, all the food is ready,” he said.

Daudi’s farm acts as a demonstration site to transfer the technologies and knowledge he has gained from the researchers to the surrounding farmers who are inspired with what they see and by the changes he has made in his life. He has also been trained in the production of Quality Declared Seeds and therefore sells seeds of various local and improved varieties to surrounding farmers.

Empowering women and improving marriages

DSCN5561 (2)
Witness Sikayange, chair lady of Upendo women’s group shows the bean plants in one of their farms

Upendo women’s group in Mchewe village in Mbeya rural district has also seen beans change their lives and their marriages for the better.

According to the chair of the group, Witness Sikayange, the women came together in 2010 to find ways to work together to improve their lives and those of their families through farming.

“We realized we can earn more money from beans compared to maize as we can harvest up to three times a year compared to once a year for maize. We then approached researchers and government extension workers for training on improved farming methods and for improved varieties. And after that, we started commercial farming of beans.

“We are now living a very comfortable life. We all have improved houses and are taking our children to school. And our marriages are even better. Before we used to have a lot of quarrels with our husbands but since we started making our own money, they now respect us as we are not just sitting begging for everything,” Witness said.

The group is also growing Quality Declared Seeds (QDS) for the various varieties of bean released from Uyole Agricultural Research Institute to sell to surrounding farmers and processing pre-cooked beans for sale.

Spreading the success

Women selling an assortment of beans on the roadside in Mbeya, southern Tanzania
Women selling an assortment of beans on the roadside in Mbeya, southern Tanzania

There are a number of ongoing research initiatives to build on to these successes to  spread the benefits of legumes to more farmers: .

Building capacity of research institutes to develop new legume varieties:  Efforts to provide farmers with better varieties are also continuing through the Tropical Legumes III (TLIII) project funded by the Gates Foundation and  led by ICRISAT.

According to Emmanuel Monyo, the coordinator for this project, TLIII  is seeking to improve the breeding capacity of national agricultural research systems and of  three CG centers―CIAT, IITA, and ICRISAT to provide farmers with improved high yielding legume varieties  to improve the  production and productivity of the crops in Sub-Saharan Africa And Asia. Its target is to improve the livelihoods and nutritional status of smallholder farmers through increased legume production.

N2africa – adding  soybean to the mix:  The ‘Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa,’ project,  in short  N2Africa, led by Wageningen University in the Netherlands is promoting the production of soybean in the area and introducing  the use of seed innoculants and improved farming methods such as higher density planting and use of appropriate fertilizers both organic, inorganic and bio-fertilizers.

According to Fred Baijukya, an agronomist at IITA’s Eastern Africa hub  and N2Africa Country Coordinator for Tanzania, the project is currently conducting trials of new improved soybean varieties together with ARI-Uyole and lead farmers to identify the best-performing ones as well as have farmers preferred traits to recommend for release.

Freddy Baijukya, IITA Agronomist and N2Africa Country Coordinator explaining to the group on the long-term trials
Freddy Baijukya, IITA Agronomist and N2Africa Country Coordinator explaining to the group on the long-term trials

The project is also conducting agronomic trials looking into the best agronomic practices that will ensure the farmers get the highest returns including time of planting, spacing and use of fertilizers.

Dissemination of technologies: One challenge that faces research organizations is the wide-scale dissemination and scaling out of new technologies to reach many farmers. Two NGOs―One Acre Fund and Farm Inputs Promotion (FIPs)―are assisting in these efforts. FIPs is providing farmer with small packs of different inputs including seeds for improved varieties and fertilizers.  For testing and adoption of those they like and also providing advice on good agronomic practices. FIPS also links farmers to the agro-dealers and private sector companies to ensure supply of the inputs.

One Acre Fund on the other hand is providing loans to farmers to purchase seeds and other inputs such as fertilizers for their farms and training them on better farming practices.

The two development partners are now keen to work with the research teams to help in the dissemination of new legume varieties released from research institutes as well as inputs such as rhizobium and legume fertilizers.

Upendo Women Group holding small packets of inputs from FIPS to test on their farms and decide if they would like to usethem the next growin season.
Upendo Womens Group holding small packets of inputs from FIPS for testing on their farms

These successful cases show the clear link between research and development, says Jean Claude Rubyongo, a seed system specialist from CIAT and who is also one of the researchers who has been conducting research on bean in the country for many years parenting with ARI-Uyole.

If the successes achieved by Daudi and Upendo can be replicated throughout the region, then clearly the region will transform itself and make a big dent in the efforts to support the country to industrialize and reduce poverty and malnutrition.