Celebrating IITA50 in Rwanda: How collaboration between CGIAR and scaling partners can make science work for farmers

Authors: Mariette McCampbell, Marc Schut and Emmanuel Njukwe

IITA Rwanda took the International Scientific Conference organized by University of Rwanda between 14-16 June 2017 as an opportunity to showcase its research for development in the country and to mark IITA’s 50th anniversary. Conference participants from all over the world got to see and hear about IITA’s work. Dr. Emmanuel Njukwe gave an oral presentation titled ‘Variation of banana yields in banana-bean production systems in Rwanda’, and chaired the session on Sustainable Crop Production and Soil Fertility Management. Another oral presentation with the title ‘Nutrient use efficiency in maize response to fertilizers in smallholder farms of Rwanda’ was given by Leon Nabuhungu from the IITA Bukavu station. In collaboration with different partners such as Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), a poster with results of the integrated systems research in North-West Rwanda was presented. On top of that, IITA took a prominent place in the conference’s exhibition, showing materials from projects such as N2Africa, CIALCA and RTB in collaboration with its partners. The NGO Gardens for Health International was present to inform visitors about their work on household nutrition in Rwanda. Private sector partner Africa Food Supply Ltd. joined to share their experience with the cost-effective banana macropropagation technology that was developed by IITA and Bioversity International under CIALCA. The live banana materials in the exhibition booth, including a full demonstration of a propagation unit, attracted attention from conference participants.

Photo/ McCampbell Mariette: Snapshot of IITA’s booth on the conference exhibition where, among other things, banana macropropagation technology was demonstrated to participants at the Kigali Conference and Exhibition Centre, Kigali, Rwanda.

On Thursday, June 15, IITA hosted a field visit to the Kamonyi Agricultural Resource and Training Centre in the Southern region. Four buses with national and international conference participants left Kigali for an afternoon in the field. As a first stop the banana macropropagation and nurseries were visited.  Visitors were welcomed by Mr. Udahemuka Aimable, who is the mayor of Kamonyi District. In his short speech, the mayor highlighted the achievements for production of clean banana seeds, thanks to the support of IITA. With the opening of the resource and training centre up to 300.000 banana suckers can be produced each year.

Dr. Marc Schut then talked about IITA’s presence in Africa, some of the activities and achievements in Rwanda so far, and the celebration of IITA’s golden jubilee in 2017. Marc emphasized the importance of close collaboration between research and public and private sector scaling partners, so that science-based innovations – such as the production of clean planting materials through macropropagation – can make a difference for farmers. He also mentioned that the Rwanda station is looking ahead, developing future plans for innovative research in the region on topics such as nutrition and ICT for agriculture.

Photo/McCampbell Mariette: Visitors examining macropropagation units at the Kamonyi Agricultural Resource and Training Centre, Kamonyi, Rwanda

The final talk was reserved for IITA Rwanda’s country representative Dr. Emmanuel Njukwe, who highlighted the strong relationships in Kamonyi with partners such as Africa Foods Ltd. and Union des Jeunes pour le Développement Rurale (UJDR). IITA has been working on improving banana production in this area since 2012. Emphasis has been on tackling key challenges in the banana system, such as diseases, availability of planting material, and access to varieties. Asked about the role of women by one of the visitors, he noted that both male and female farmers are targeted with the interventions. With the presence of the resource and training centre today the site offers opportunities for youth too.

Photo/McCampbell Mariette: Women from UJDR managing banana seedlings at the Kamonyi Agricultural Resource and Training Center in Kamonyi, Rwanda.

Visitors were given the opportunity to walk around the field site and ask all kinds of questions about macropropagation technology and operation of the resource centre. After a short drive a second stop was made at the banana plantation in Kamonyi. Here visitors saw the result of the macropropagation: healthy banana plants of different varieties, including plantain.

Photo/McCampbell Mariette: Visitors observing and discussing various banana varieties on the plantation in Kamonyi, Rwanda

For IITA Rwanda this was an important and successful event that provided a platform for sharing our experiences, outputs, and impact in the region to an interested and enthusiastic audience. IITA Rwanda showcased the Institute’s many interesting projects and certainly made IITA’s presence felt, and emphasized that we are ready for another 50 years of exciting research and development work together with our partners.

 

Photo/McCapmpbell Mariette: Dr. Emmanuel Njukwe and Dr. Marc Schut posing together with Mr. Edward Habinshuti, a farmer in Kamonyi district who gave a testimony on how his family’s livelihood improved since he planted 1500 banana seedlings on his farm.

IITA and Partners Launch Project to Control CSBD/CMD for Rwanda and Burundi

By Nsimire Mireille

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in partnership with Institute of Agricultural Science of Burundi (ISABU) and Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) have launched a new project titled ‘Fighting Cassava Brown Streak Disease and Cassava Mosaic Disease through the deployment of new resistant germplasm and clean seed in Rwanda and Burundi’.

The Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) and Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) are a major threat to cassava production in both Burundi and the eastern part of the neighbouring DRC.  Of concern is the CBSD which was reported in the region in 2009 and is spreading rapidly.

The four-year project seeks to increase cassava productivity in Rwanda and Burundi through the development and deployment of CBSD/CMD resistant cassava varieties, as well as establishing a system to produce and disseminate high quality and virus-tested planting materials to farmers. The project is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and led by IITA with the national cassava research programs at ISABU and RAB, from Burundi and Rwanda respectively as the major partners.

The launch workshop brought together stakeholders from the two countries to get to know each other, and to understand the project better and was held at IITA-Kalambo station in Bukavu from 15 – 18 May 2017. It was officiated by the regional hub director, Dr. Bernard Vanlauwe who was represented by the officer in charge of IITA- Kalambo station, Dr. Chris Okafor.

Speaking at the workshop, Silver Tumwegamire, the project leader, said the expected outcomes of the project in the two countries included a 50% increase in cassava productivity for 20,000 cassava farmers through the introduction of high yielding and disease-resistant varieties, and establishing a sustainable system for dissemination of certified early generation seed (pre-basic and basic) of the best varieties.

The project builds on the experiences and lessons from the just concluded New Cassava Varieties and Clean Seeds to combat CMD and CBSD project (5CP in short) implemented in five countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. It will make use of the new improved cassava varieties selected under the 5CP project that showed high levels of tolerance to the two viral diseases.

The meeting also brought participants from other IITA led projects including the 5CP and Action to Control Cassava Brown Streak Disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo (CBSD-DRC)] to share their experiences and lessons to allow the new project team to learn from them and incorporate the lessons in their project as well to identify areas of synergies. The CBSD-DRC is led by Dr. Nzola Mahungu who is also the country coordinator for DRC.

James Legg, IITA virologist shared experiences and lessons on the development of a pilot clean seeds’ system for cassava in Tanzania under 5CP.  He outlined the requirements and approaches of developing clean seed systems to produce virus-tested cassava pre-basic’ seed.

Regina Kapinga, Head of Advocacy and Resource Mobilization at IITA gave a presentation on the importance of ensuring the project was aligned and mainstreamed to the priorities of the two countries for greater efficiency, effectiveness and impact!

“We need to ensure our activities are relevant to the countries we work in. we also need to systematically track the progress we are making in contributing towards the countries’ economic growth through agriculture,” Kapinga said.

Mahungu, CBSD-RDC project leader shared the objectives of the nearly similar project he was leading in DRC.  This was to maintain sustainable cassava productivity through the development and promotion of appropriate cassava varieties, resistant to CBSD and other biotic constraints, and disseminate approaches for the integrated management of cassava diseases and pests to contribute to increased food availability, income generation and sustainable livelihoods. In addition, presented the one year work plan activities.

The workshop concluded with a visit to the virology Laboratory at IITA-Bukavu where  Clerisse Casinga, a researcher at IITA – Kalambo shared with the participants a CBSD study conducted in D.R. Congo with supervision of IITA’s James Legg and Rudolph Shirima, in 2016.

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.