IITA Management cites SARD-SC for impressive implementation

The IITA Management has commended the SARD-SC project, funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), for its highly satisfactory implementation and the meaningful impact the commodity value chains are making in the lives of the beneficiaries. Director General Nteranya Sanginga led the team comprising Mr Kwame Kwame Akuffo-Akoto, Deputy Director General, Corporate Services; Dr Ylva Hillbur, DDG, Research for Development, and Mr  Omoshalewa Sholola, Director of Finance, during the recent internal  evaluation conducted 21 April.

DG Nteranya Sanginga (middle) driving home a point during the internal project evaluation. Others in photo are (from left) Omoshalewa Sholola, Finance Director, and Ylva Hillbur, DDG, Research for Development.
DG Nteranya Sanginga (middle) driving home a point during the internal project evaluation. Others in photo are (from left) Omoshalewa Sholola, Finance Director, and Ylva Hillbur, DDG, Research for Development.

Dr Sanginga said he was delighted that the project was on track, and praised the achievements recorded so far since its inception in 2012. “I am quite impressed by what you have achieved so far in terms of new varieties, technology dissemination, and value addition to commodities and how they are changing lives, generating income and employment for the people.”

The DG said the evaluation was conducted to give an update of the project’s progress in the areas of technology dissemination in preparation for the Mid-Term Review (MTR), and its financial standing, and also to discuss possible solutions to any implementation challenges.“The SARD-SC project is very important, not because it has a huge budget but in terms of the impact it is designed to have on the productivity of and income from the value chains of the commodities you work with and  the lives of the people. This is a project which  allows us to assess the impact of some of our mandate crops – cassava,  rice, maize, and wheat. It is one project that helps to maintain strong IITA relationships with the AfDB.”

The evaluation started with Dr Chrys Akem, Project Coordinator, presenting an overview of the activities and achievements of the project on the value chains for the four mandate crops. He went on to highlight their impact on the livelihoods of many in the project target countries. His presentation also highlighted new varietal development of the target commodities and their dissemination to farmers and farmers’ groups. He also spoke of the project’s distribution of better quality cassava stems to farmers, improvements in the mechanization of production systems for all the commodities, and infrastructural development with the building of cassava processing centers in DR Congo, Tanzania, Zambia, and Sierra Leone. The establishment of these processing centers had led to new product development (confectionery with cassava flour) hitherto unknown in some of these countries. Consequently, it had fostered a strong sense of community engagement, especially the women. Included in his presentation was an update on the procurement and financial status of the project.

Dr Akem explained that  the  project activities had been  aligned with IITA’s refreshed strategy in the areas of increased food security and availability, increased profitability of food products, and sustainability of natural resource management.

It was not all rosy for the project, as he revealed some of the challenges in the areas of procurement and financial disbursement. He also pointed out some of the opportunities going forward as the project takes on the mid-term review.

The DG urged the project team to ensure that they used the forthcoming MTR as an opportunity to record their recommendations in the Bank’s final documents. Other members of the Management team also provided comments and asked for clarification from the Project Coordinator. Mr Sholola commended the team for effective financial management and control. Mr  Akuffo-Akoto  advised  the team  to ensure the sustainability of the  structures built in the project areas, whereas Dr Hillbur encouraged them to continue to have strong linkages with other institutional projects.

Private sector in Japan to partner with IITA’s Business Incubation Platform

CIMG0490 (Copy)Dr Nteranya Sanginga was in Japan 6-10 April where he met national and international partners and private sector representatives (see story on IITA Bulletin 2271). The photo shows Dr Sanginga in the meeting with private sector representatives. The Japanese National Television (NHK) was there to cover the event and also interview Dr Sanginga.

Report provides evidence of how climate change affects Arabica coffee growing areas

Do you know that high night temperatures affect our morning coffee?

Evidence that climate change is already having an impact on the Arabica coffee sector in the East African Highlands region is shown by a study called “Coffea arabica yields decline in Tanzania due to climate change: Global implications” published earlier this month by IITA, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, and the University of Witwatersrand in www.sciencedirect.com. The study shows that over the last 49 years, there has been a +1.42 °C increase in night temperatures which has led to yield decreases in Arabica of 195 kg/ha. The consequences for smallholders in the region are dramatic as it represents losses of 46%.

“Coffee yields have declined to their lowest point in years, with many farmers in Tanzania giving up on coffee completely,” says Alessandro Craparo, the main author of the study.

The sensitive Coffea arabica berries need low temperatures to grow well and produce high quality coffee for consumption, that is why they are best suited to the cool tropical highlands of East Africa, typically between 1300-2800 m above sea level. Using data from the northern Tanzanian highlands, the study demonstrates for the first time that the increasing night time (minimum) temperature is the most significant climatic variable responsible for diminishing Arabica coffee yields between 1961 and 2012 and proves that climate change is an ongoing reality. The researchers A. Craparo, P. van Asten, P. Läderach, L. Jassogne, and S. Grab use open access datasets, which confirm that out of many climate variables, night temperature has the greatest correlation to coffee production.

The results of the study projected forward means that without substantial adaptation strategies, the average coffee production in Tanzania will drop to 145 ± 41 kg/ha by 2060. This is approximately a 35% loss in yield for the farmer, which could mean a decrease of up to US$28 million in export earnings for Arabica for the country.

“The industry is aware of the impact of climate change on coffee production, but they need hard data to prove to regional decision makers, how urgently climate mitigation strategies need to be put in place” says Dr Piet van Asten, IITA Country Representative in Uganda and agronomist working on sustainable intensification of cropping systems. “The study is the first of its kind globally providing essential time-series evidence that climate change has already had a negative impact on C. arabica yields,” he added.

Contrary to the typical constraints found in coffee research linked to rainfall and drought stress and the climate projections for future scenarios deriving from it, the observation of minimum temperatures needed for coffee growing leads to clear empiric data and biological relationships–the hotter the nights get, the higher the danger for Arabica coffee production.

At night temperatures of 23 °C and above, the plant’s metabolism starts to change, leading to lower yields and reduced quality, which will have a significant impact on the coffee industries and processors.

The study, which was done under the CGIAR Research Program on Climate, Agriculture and Food Security also received funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ . It may give the coffee sector the hard figures required to encourage the public and the private sector to invest in climate change adaptation strategies that will better sustain the industry and the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers who depend on it.

Africa RISING ESA external review team praise research; call for improved efforts to ensure adoption of technologies

The IITA-commissioned external review of Africa RISING East and Southern Africa project concluded on 16 March after nearly 5 weeks of literature review, project stakeholder interviews, and field visits to project sites in Tanzania and Malawi. While presenting their preliminary report at the IITA Malawi offices, the team of reviewers expressed satisfaction with the majority of the ongoing research and also called for improvements in the integrated systems research approach by partners involved as well as the strengthening of the innovation/R4D platforms facilitated by the project.

Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon (right), Jim Ellis-Jones (second right), Regis Chikowo (center) and Colletah Chitsike (center left) view a mother trial for climbing bean varieties in Linthipe, Malawi. Jim and Colletah were part of the team of three reviewers.
Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon (right), Jim Ellis-Jones (second right), Regis Chikowo (center) and Colletah Chitsike (center left) view a mother trial for climbing bean varieties in Linthipe, Malawi. Jim and Colletah were part of the team of three reviewers.

The reviewers recommended a revision of some of the indicators in the project document, an update of the Africa RISING ESA logframe, a project-wide socioeconomic analysis of the technology combinations being tested and promoted as well as a stronger consideration of the gender component in all ongoing research activities.

“Great progress is being made in the project especially with the biophysical research work being implemented by the scientists. Of course there are areas for improvement that we have pointed out but really it has been impressive seeing, for example, the yield increases that farmers have testified to farmers introduced by the project. We think that the next step should now be to carry out an economic analysis of the technologies being promoted to ensure that they are adoptable by farmers,” noted the lead reviewer, Jim Ellis-Jones.

Another member of the review team, Colletah Chitsike gave further encouraging comments: “This project is breaking new ground in turning research into use and you have started very well. It will grow and spread,” she said.

The external mid-term review had been commissioned by IITA which leads  the two Africa RISING projects in East/Southern Africa and West Africa with the objective of assessing the conformity of the implemented work with the research framework developed, evaluating how the project was fostering learning by the stakeholders, assessing partnerships and project management. Results are expected to feed into the donor-commissioned program review later this year and the planning for the next project phase.

“This has been a very intense review,” noted Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon, Africa RISING Coordinator for West Africa and East and Southern Africa, at the end of the debriefing meeting. “Thanks to everybody for being available and making contributions. We will look at the recommendations with careful interest, consult with the project donor, USAID, and see what adjustments are possible. Thank you, reviewers, for taking up the task. Your knowledge of the region was very helpful. We had a very capable team.” The final review report is expected to be ready by the end of April 2015. A corresponding review of the  Africa RISING West Africa Project was conducted in September/October 2014 and the final report has been published.

Women in Science: Dream it, work hard, and you will Make it Happen

“When I went to the US to do my master’s, I was the only black person in my class, the only female, and the only foreigner. And I had two small children. I had a very hard time,” says Dr Mary Mgonja, the Head of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Dr Mgonja was sharing her journey on becoming a successful scientist as part of a panel discussion organized to mark this year’s International Women’s Day held at the IITA offices in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The event “#Make It Happen for Women in Science” was in line with this year’s theme, “Make It Happen.”

Women in science who “make it happen”.
Women in science who “make it happen”.

The panel discussion brought together female researchers in Tanzania working in diverse fields and at various levels of their career―those starting out and those at their peak—to discuss and share their stories, successes, and challenges before an audience of IITA researchers and partners, the media, and aspiring young scientists drawn from surrounding secondary schools.

In addition to Dr Mgonja, the other panelists were Dr Costancia Rugumaru, Dean, Faculty of Science at the University of Dar es Salaam, School of Education; Dr Francesca Nelson, Senior Food Security Specialist, IITA; and Mary Maganga and Edda Mushi, Research Supervisors at IITA. The session was facilitated by Dr Rose Shayo, a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) of the University of Dar es Salaam.

All the panelists shared the various challenges they had faced and the lessons they had learned along the way; they offered words of encouragement to female potential scientists on the
theme that kept repeating itself―hard work.

“In all the places you will work, be yourself, respect your superiors, and do your job well,” said Dr Regina Kapinga who will soon be joining IITA as Head of Advocacy and Resource Mobilization from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr Kapinga also shared her journey from being a simple village girl to working as a Senior Program Officer with the Gates Foundation and all the lessons on the way and the wisdom she had gained.

“One of my biggest challenges was the lack of facilities to study science in my high school. We did not have laboratories and equipment; however, I persevered, did well, and proceeded to the university to pursue my degree in agronomy. At the university, there were very few students, as many women said agronomy was a very hard subject,” Edda Mushi explained.

Dr Franscesca Nelson focused on the importance of tackling existing social conventions which were disadvantageous to women. These included issues such as violence against women and the discrimination that was deeply rooted in cultural beliefs and social norms.

IITA women researchers in Tanzania sharing their life’s journeys and experiences to motivate other potential female scientists.
IITA women researchers in Tanzania sharing their life’s journeys and experiences to motivate other potential female scientists.

She also noted that it was important for female researchers to use their knowledge and skills to find solutions to the challenges faced by poor rural women; for example, by developing labor-saving equipment and tackling inequalities.

While officially opening the event, Dr Victor Manyong, IITA Director for Eastern Africa, briefed participants on gender issues at the Institute. He said gender is a very important topic at IITA as an international research organization whose goal was to tackle hunger, poverty, and malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We cannot address these problems in Africa without understanding and addressing the constraints faced by women farmers. In most communities they provide the majority of  labor on the family farm and process food for markets as well as for family consumption.

In some communities, they are not allowed to own land or other agricultural assets and they have no say in any decisions on farm incomes and activities,” he said.

Dr Manyong added, “It is therefore important to factor these considerations in our research-for-development interventions to ensure they benefit all Africans, women and men alike.”

The students at the event appreciated the opportunity to meet and hear from successful researchers, saying they were very inspired by all the stories.

“We are very happy to meet all these senior scientists who have motivated us and shown us that science can be for girls. We do not have many such opportunities. I wish there would be more of such forums that reach out to more girls including those in the rural areas,” said Glory Venance, a form 5 student at Jangwani Secondary School. “However, in our school, we also do not have good facilities and equipment. Therefore, even as we are being motivated to take up science, the Government should also look into this challenge.”

The participants urged IITA and its partner institutions to find ways to organize other such forums to motivate girls to take up science and encourage the young scientists starting their careers. The event was organized by IITA in collaboration with AGRA and IDS of the University of Dar es Salaam.

African Development Bank, Nigerian Government, and IITA join forces in developing a youth scheme for food security and income in Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), and IITA have launched the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase 1 (ATASP-1) today, 6 March at IITA’s office in Abuja, Nigeria.

The ATASP-1 is financed by AfDB to the tune of US$170 million and aims at creating additional incomes to an increased number of producers and entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector in Nigeria by providing about 120,000 jobs along the value chain of priority commodities. An additional 20 million tons of key commodity food crops including cassava, rice, and sorghum will be added to the domestic food supply each year.

Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture (in glasses, center) and DG Nteranya Sanginga (in pink tie) with guests during the stone-laying ceremony in IITA. Abuja.
Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture (in glasses, center) and DG Nteranya Sanginga (in pink tie) with guests during the stone-laying ceremony in IITA. Abuja.

A significant part of the project is developing outreach models with young entrepreneurs in agriculture, “IITA youth agripreneurs”. This component will be implemented by IITA which has established a Youth Agripreneurs scheme at its Headquarters in Ibadan, Oyo State, and in DR Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia. The Agripreneurs are promoting agriculture among other young people in their regions through peer education, training and demonstration of agricultural best practices, and business skills in value chain development.

“Many young people are migrating to cities in search of a better life. We need to create opportunities to engage them productively in agriculture and other business enterprises,” said Dr Nteranya Sanginga, IITA’s Director General during the launch in an interview with reporters. “This project aims to build on the youth model developed in IITA to change mindsets of young men and women and gainfully engage them in agriculture,” he added.

AfDB’s Chief Country Program Coordinator, Andoh Mensah, explained that the project would capitalize on IITA’s participatory approach and would train and retrain young men and women along the commodity value chains. According to him, the ATASP-1 is part of the Bank’s efforts in contributing to the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the Government of Nigeria, which aims to create 3.5 million jobs along key crop value chains.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria, Dr Akinwumi Adesina underlined that “Africa’s future millionaires and billionaires will make their money from agriculture,” as the governments marshal out plans to unlock wealth from the soil. He estimates that the bulk of this new wealthy population will be made up of young people adept at creating jobs for millions in each African country and bringing business opportunities to rural communities all across the continent. The Minister further enjoined the youth to stop seeing agriculture as a tool for development but as a business.

He reasoned that agriculture is now an exciting sector. “Today, major local and international investors are investing in this sector. The number of seed companies alone has risen dramatically and the banks are lending to the sector more than ever before.”

Adesina is among the five candidates who have been shortlisted to contest the presidency of the African Development Bank.  The AfDB Board said the selection of the most eligible candidates to succeed President Donald Kaberuka was done by a Steering Committee of the Board of Governors at a meeting held in Abidjan on 11 February 2015.  Ethiopia’s Finance Minister, Sufian Ahmed; Cape Verdean Finance Minister, Cristina Kamara; the current Vice President of the Islamic Development Bank, Birama Sidibe; and Chad’s Finance Minister, Kordjé Bedoumra have also been shortlisted for the elections slated for May 2015.

Africa RISING Project leads take part in Sustainable Intensification Cross-Learning Tour

Technical leads of the Africa RISING project in West Africa, East and Southern Africa, and Ethiopia, took part in a cross-learning tour on sustainable intensification from 28 January to 3 February. The event was organized by donors funding projects on sustainable intensification in Africa and South Asia. A diverse and multi-institutional group of 50 participants attended the event and shared perspectives on sustainable intensification in African and South Asian contexts. They came from USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID’s Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab, the Innovation Lab for Small-scale Irrigation, CIMMYT, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Participants visited sites of CSISA in Bihar and Odisha States of India. IITA scientists who took part in the event were Irmgard Hoeschle-Zeledon, Mateete Bekunda, and Asamoah Larbi.

Africa RISING scientists Mateete Bekunda from IITA (right) and Kindu Mekonnen from ILRI (left) look at a mechanical seeder manufactured for use by small-scale farmers in India. The mechanical seeder is manufactured through a public-private partnership between the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) and the private sector.
Africa RISING scientists Mateete Bekunda from IITA (right) and Kindu Mekonnen from ILRI (left) look at a mechanical seeder manufactured for use by small-scale farmers in India. The mechanical seeder is manufactured through a public-private partnership between the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) and the private sector.

“Taking part in the cross-learning event provided insights for us on the work of our colleagues. We could clearly see how government’s subsidies help the adoption of technologies. Although we cannot change government policies in Africa, we have seen a lot of affordable and feasible options for the mechanization of smallholder farm activities which we can introduce in Africa and which will be beneficial to small-scale farmers. Examples are  the use of two-wheel tractors for line sowing and fertilizer application, fodder choppers, and axial flow pumps. We invite our CSISA colleagues to come to visit our activities and give us advice, based on their advanced experience in India,” said Dr Hoeschle-Zeledon, Project Coordinator for Africa RISING West Africa and East and Southern Africa.

Prof Mateete Bekunda, Chief Scientist of the Africa RISING East and Southern Africa Project, noted that such exchanges between sister projects in different parts of the world are beneficial for partners engaged in sustainable intensification projects to learn from each others’ experiences , refine project implementation, and consequently improve the livelihoods of the smallholder farmers.

As part of the US government’s Feed the Future (FtF) initiative to address hunger and food security in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, USAID is supporting three multi-stakeholder agricultural research projects under the umbrella program Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation – Africa RISING. This is designed to sustainably intensify key African farming systems in West, East, and Southern Africa (led by IITA) and in the Ethiopian Highlands (led by ILRI).

SARD-SC demonstrates improved cassava farming practices to spur production in Kigoma, Tanzania

Dr Habaye explain to the farmers the on-going agronomy trials to farmers during the field day.
Dr Habaye explaining to the farmers the on-going agronomy trials to farmers during the field day.

The Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC) project led by the International of Institute Tropical Agriculture (IITA) held a successful one-day farmers field day to demonstrate the improved cassava production technologies it was piloting to increase the crop’s productivity while at the same time conserving and maintaining soil fertility.

The event also enabled the project to get feedback from the farmers on the technologies that they preferred and which they would readily adopt to enhance productivity of cassava in the region to improve food and nutritional security and contribute to poverty reduction.

The technologies demonstrated at the event, held on 27 February 2014 at Kakonko District, Kigoma Region, in Tanzania, included intercropping and the use of fertilizers and new improved varieties.

??????????Dr Mboyi Mugendi, a Zonal Research Director at the Lake Zone Agricultural Research and Development Institute (LZARDI) hailed the technologies being piloted by the SARD-SC project saying they had the potential to increase production of cassava, one of the region’s key staple crops, and contribute to efforts to improve food security and reduce poverty in the region.

“The improved cassava farming technologies being piloted by the project have the potential to significantly boost cassava production in this region and at the same time conserve soil fertility. However, the farmers will also need further training in order to adopt the new technologies being piloted,” said Dr Mugendi.

Dr.Mboyi Mgendi from LZARD,explaining on benefit of soil measure before application of any technologies to farmers.
Dr.Mboyi Mugendi from LZARD,explaining on benefit of soil measure before application of any technologies to farmers.

He added: “There is need to create awareness among the farmers on the importance of testing their soils so they can know the deficient minerals and the best crops to grow and fertilizers to use. They also need support in the testing.”

Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) were identified as major challenges threatening production of cassava in the region. Dr Simon Jeremiah from LZARDI briefed the farmers on the two diseases, their symptoms, and the measures to take to stop their spread.

He also urged farmers to invest in the production of clean seeds and to change to the improved cassava varieties which are tolerant to the two diseases that the project will recommend from its trials.

Dr Jeremiah demonstrating symptoms of CMD and CBSD to farmers at Juma Maganga,(Cassva Mosaic and Brownstrak disease) at Kakonko district
Dr Jeremiah demonstrating symptoms of CMD and CBSD to farmers

Mr Christopher Briton Chugwa, Chairman of a farmers group in Kibondo District, said the farmers’ day was important as it exposed farmers to new technologies that had potential to increase yields to motivate them to improve their farming practices.

Miss Veronica Laurence, a farmer from Kiobela Village, said the improved varieties and farming practices being demonstrated by the project had better yields compared to the local varieties and local practices. However she added lack of financial resources was a major barrier to many farmers in adopting the new technologies.

Thanking the project on behalf of the Kakonko District Commissioner, Mrs Tausi Madebo, the Division Officer, said that the technologies demonstrated a lot of potential to boost cassava production. She encouraged farmers to form associations and work as a group to tap into the existing market opportunities for the crop in the area.

Women farmers keenly listening to the speakers during the field day

Participants at the event included farmers from Kakonko, Kiobela, and Kasanda villages, government officials, and staff from LZARD and IITA.

 The SARD-SC is a multinational project led by several CGIAR centers whose objective is to enhance food and nutrition security and contribute to reducing poverty in selected Regional Membership Countries (RMCs) in Africa. Funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), it focuses on raising the productivity and profitability of cassava, maize, rice, and wheat.

It is being implemented in Benin Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.


IITA Kalambo station gets a bus for staff

IITA Kalambo staff express their gratitude in receiving the new bus; Driver Luc Mbuwi (center in striped shirt) drove the bus from Nairobi and hands the keys to Dr Paul Dontsop Nguezet
IITA Kalambo staff express their gratitude in receiving the new bus; Driver Luc Mbuwi (center in striped shirt) drove the bus from Nairobi and hands the keys to Dr Paul Dontsop Nguezet

The IITA Kalambo Station has a brand new bus for staff use! The bus will be used for transporting staff to and from the office, which is located about 30 km from Bukavu City. The absence of public transport on the route had been a major problem for staff.

Having its own transportation in the hub for staff use will reduce the cost of transportation and facilitate staff travel on that route.

The entire staff of IITA Kalambo were excited about the new bus. The keys of the bus were officially handed over to Dr Paul Dontsop Nguezet who received the bus on behalf of Dr Chris Okafor, the Officer in Charge of IITA Kalambo Station.

Expressing their joy, Mr Mustapha Kigangu, SARD-SC Research Supervisor, said: “This is really good news to staff; the office used to rent a 28-seater which was not enough to take everyone. The arrival of this new bus is a solution to staff transportation problems. We thank our ldeaders for making our life easier.”

Mrs Despines Bamuleke, IITA Kalambo Research Assistant, was particularly happy because the bus is a four-wheeler which will make it less difficult to ply the Kalambo route during the rainy season.