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.

IITA DG presents to Senate and House Committees on Agriculture, Nigeria

In an historic milestone, Director General Nteranya Sanginga on 9 March, made a presentation before the joint sitting of the Senate Committee and House of  Representatives  Committee  on Agriculture, House of Assembly, Abuja. For the first time in its almost 50 years of existence, IITA was invited by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development to speak about IITA and its work. The DG’s presentation was titled “Repositioning IITA for impact in Nigeria.” The purpose of the visit was to interact with the lawmakers for better collaboration between the Institute and the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Picture of DG Nteranya Sanginga visits the joint Senate and House Committees on Agriculture in the National Assembly, Abuja.
DG Nteranya Sanginga visits the joint Senate and House Committees on Agriculture in
the National Assembly, Abuja.

Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Chair, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, in his remarks, said “This government can only succeed if research is there. Research is fundamental to our success… IITA is all about research.” Sen Adamu was reacting to the DG’s presentation, which made a case for agriculture as a strategic driver of development in Nigeria.

In his concluding statement, Sen Adamu raised a wake-up call: “We must go back to agriculture! IITA is an institute that can greatly impact our efforts to improve the agricultural sector…” The senator had visited IITA for the first time in 2012 during a workshop organized with IITA Goodwill Ambassador, former President Olasegun Obasanjo.

The IITA contingent consisted of DG Sanginga,  Deputy  Director  General Kenton Dashiell, Alfred Dixon (Partnerships Coordination Office), Gbassey Tarawali (Outreach Coordinator, Abuja Station), Toyin Oke (RMPEL), Ayo Omopaola (IT  Officer,  Abuja),  Bode  Olaoluwa (Communication Office), Thereza Agada Ene (IYA), and Abe Baggi Zaccheaus Isuw.

DG tours Tanzania; shares new ambitions for IITA and agriculture in Africa

IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga has just concluded a two-day visit to IITA’s Eastern Africa’s office in Tanzania where he met the Institute’s staff and shared his priority areas of focus for his second term as the head of the Institute.

Picture of IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga
IITA Director General Nteranya Sanginga

He said he had identified three areas that he was passionate about which had grown in leaps and bounds in his first five-year tenure which ends in a few months.

These are strengthening IITA’s internal corporate services which are crucial to supporting and delivery of the science, the Feed Africa initiative with the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), and building on the success of the youth Agripreneurs program whose objective is to create jobs and income for young people in Africa through agribusiness.

“I have been thinking seriously about this in the last six months: What will I focus on in the next five years if I seek another term as DG? From my experience, a second term is usually very tricky and I wanted to make sure I have new ambitions that will take me out of bed excitedly every morning,” Sanginga said while addressing the staff at the hub.

“We are doing very well in our science; and we have great partnerships from the grassroots all the way to the top level. We have built donor confidence and our business incubation platform is up and running processing aflasafe and NoduMax and we are thinking of adding aeroponics and tissue culture. We now need to strengthen our internal corporate services – finance, HR, and IT. So my second term will focus more inwards to ensure more efficient services.

Feed Africa is a major initiative of the AfDB to transform agriculture in Africa and with it, the Bank was keen to work with CGIAR centers with IITA playing a key role, Sanginga said. “In this regard, we are having a major summit at Headquarters bringing together all the CGIAR centers working in Africa and major donors to kick off the initiative and discuss its implementation.”
He noted that the Agripreneurs program that IITA, under his leadership, started three years ago was already well established in five countries – DRC, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda – and getting a lot of support. For example, in Nigeria, the government was providing support to replicate the program across the country to more states. The AfDB supports the initiative and is keen to take it across the continent. Recently the University of Michigan had expressed interest to work with the group and conduct research on changing the mindset of the youth towards agriculture.

Sanginga also spent time talking to and mentoring the youth in Tanzania as well as visiting their processing center that had been constructed with support from the AfDB. He reminded them that agriculture is one of the sectors that had real potential to create employment and that IITA scientists and researchers were ready to share knowledge and the technologies they are developing.

“Believe in yourselves. Through agriculture and this initiative you can create your own jobs and even employ others.”

He also told the youth that IITA will be counting on them to encourage other youth to go into agribusiness. “We are receiving a lot of support from policy makers in different countries wanting to adopt the program. The AfDB is also keen to start investing in youth in agribusiness across 23 countries in Africa using the IITA model. So we will be counting on some of you to help in this initiative to help change the youth’s mindsets in agriculture in many countries.”

Sanginga was in the hub as part of efforts to keep the staff in the region updated with the latest developments and future plans and keep abreast of what is happening at the hub. He was well received by the team at the hub led by the Director for Eastern Africa, Victor Manyong.

Researchers on one of the world’s most destructive agricultural pests, whitefly, converge in Arusha, Tanzania

Group photo of whitefly scientists attending the event.
Group photo of whitefly scientists attending the event.

The 2nd International Whitefly Symposium (IWS2) is taking place in Arusha, Tanzania, this week, 14-19 February. It has brought together more than a hundred scientists from all over the world to discuss one of the world’s most destructive agricultural pests, the whitefly.

In sub-Saharan Africa, whiteflies are a key threat to food security and efforts to reduce poverty in rural areas as they destroy and spread diseases in important crops of smallholder farmers such as vegetables, beans, cassava, cotton, and sweet potato. The whitefly is the driving force behind the twin cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) pandemics that are currently ravaging cassava production in sub-Saharan Africa.

However, research on whitefly in the continent is inadequate. Apart from a lack of adequate funding, there are very few vector entomologists that could adequately manage the whitefly and associated problems. Therefore scientists from Africa and in particular Tanzania had an opportunity to learn from their colleagues from other countries such as the US, China, Europe, and Australia on new and innovative strategies to control the pest.

Poster session during the symposium.
Poster session during the symposium.

According to the meeting chair, Peter Sseruwagi, from the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI), it was important to bring the symposium to Africa as the continent is currently grappling with how to feed its ever-increasing population in
the face of the twin threats of shrinking agricultural land and climate change.

“This meeting brings together renowned whitefly researchers from over 24 countries, the private sector, and students to share and exchange the latest knowledge on the whitefly. They focused especially on CMD and CBSD, the two viral diseases spread by whiteflies and which have ravaged this key staple crop in sub-Saharan Africa,” Sseruwagi said.

The meeting’s co-chair, James Legg, from IITA, added that “Africa is currently struggling with a wave of new viral diseases that are limiting the productivity of the poor smallholder farmers, who are a majority of the population and are the main food producers. These farmers have limited resources to invest in inputs such as pesticides and herbicides. We need to find sustainable science-based solutions to support them in tackling these challenges.”

The symposium is co-organized by MARI and IITA with the University of Dar es Salaam, Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), and the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) of Uganda. It is supported by USAID, the USAID-funded Africa RISING initiative, and Zhejiang University, China.

The first International Whitefly Symposium took place in Crete, Greece, in 2013. The Symposium is a series of specialized scientific meetings created out of the merger of the International Bemisia Workshop (IBWS) and the European Whitefly Symposium (EWS).

Project to boost cassava production in Africa through agronomic practices launched in Tanzania

The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) — Taking Agronomy to Scale in Cassava-Based Systems in sub-Saharan Africa, seeking to address this challenge and support smallholder farmers to increase production of cassava through developing good agronomic recommendations, recently launched its activities in Tanzania.

Central Africa Hub Director Bernard Vanlauwe being interviewed by the media.
Central Africa Hub Director Bernard Vanlauwe being interviewed by the media.

Speaking during the project launch at the beginning of this month, Bernard Vanlauwe, IITA’s Director for Central Africa and research leader of natural resource management, said there is a popular myth that cassava does not need fertilizers and can be grown on poor soils. However, if the crop’s production has to increase for food and industrial use, this perception has to change.

This was reiterated by guest of honor Hussein Mansoor, Director of Research and Development at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. He noted that much investment in cassava production had gone into development of improved high-yielding disease-resistant varieties and less on cassava agronomy, and thus the persistent high yield gap.

“With the need to intensify cassava production in areas where population densities have reduced access to land for agriculture and with cassava roots becoming an important raw material for the processing sector, the yield gap needs to be reduced. This requires investments in inputs and labor and access to fresh root markets or value-adding processing markets to ensure that farming households can generate the income required,” he said.

 

ACAI project participants during the launch.
ACAI project participants during the launch.

Lawrence Kent from the Gates Foundation said the Foundation was keen on the project due to the link between improved varieties and good agronomic practices.

“By developing improved varieties, we are only addressing half the problem. Low yields in farmers’ fields are a result of poor varieties and poor agronomic practices,” Kent said to the meeting participants via Skype. He also commended the project for its clear link between
research and uptake of the findings and between research and extension and demand-driven approach by working with partners in the cassava value chain to addressing their priorities and concerns.

ACAI seeks to improve cassava yields, cassava root quality, cassava supply to the processing sector, and fertilizer sales, and have over 100,000 households in Nigeria and Tanzania benefiting and creating a value of over US$27 million in the next five years. This value will result from increased yield of cassava and associated crops (due to intercropping), higher starch content, more continuous supply of the roots, and use of fertilizers among others. The project will also be implemented in Uganda and Ghana.

Partners in Tanzania include Cassava Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA), Farm Concern International (FCI), Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), and Minjingu Mines & Fertilizers Ltd.

Biostatistics and SAS refresher courses organized at IITA-Kinshasa

Two statistics courses were organized for IITA staff and partners in DR Congo on 25 January to 5 February. The first―a refresher course on Statistical Analysis System (SAS), was organized for IITA-Kinshasa researchers. The training provided detailed hands-on exposure to the basic procedures for appropriate data analysis as well as the provision of SAS software for participants. The second course on Biostatistics was intended for grantees of the Projet de Recherche pour l’Innovation Agricole (PRIA). PRIA seeks to revitalize development-oriented agricultural research in the country.

Participants of the biostatistics course and IITA staff in Kinshasa after the opening ceremony with the DR Congo Minister of Agriculture Representative.
Participants of the biostatistics course and IITA staff in Kinshasa after the opening ceremony
with the DR Congo Minister of Agriculture Representative.

About 18 grantees from the universities, Institut National pour l’Etude et la Recherche Agronomiques (INERA), and NGOs participated in the training courses which facilitated by IITA’s Biometricians Sam Ofodile and Sam Korie. In addition to the statistical courses, Ovegho Okome, IITA Project Administrative Officer, discussed the Institute’s financial reporting and accounting procedures.

The PRIA project is entirely funded by the DR Congo Government and managed by IITA, and covered by a memo of understanding signed in Kinshasa in June 2013. Since it started in December 2013, PRIA continues to provide competitive research grants to Congolese researchers
working with INERA, local universities, NGOs, and private organizations to
carry out innovative agricultural research in the food, livestock, and fish farming sectors. To date, about 44 of such research grants have been attributed to DR Congo researchers. These small grants were selected out of 300 applications.

IITA long-term trials validate ISFM benefits

IITA researchers working together with other scientists have shown that food security, crop yields and farmers’ livelihoods; the resilience of cropping systems to climatic change impacts; and mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions derived from fertilizer or soil are significantly enhanced when Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) is practiced during production.

To achieve these, stakeholders in agriculture advocate a shift in agro-practices to production systems that are “climate smart”. This means systems that are more productive, use inputs more efficiently, and are more responsive to local climate and socioeconomic conditions while also contributing to address climate change.

The ISFM system – a set of agro-practices adapted to local conditions for increasing production and the efficiency of inputs – is one such system which decades of research show as being able to satisfy the goals of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA).

ISFM promotes the systematic combination of both organic and inorganic inputs, improved germplasm, and sound agronomic practices as the best fit technology to successfully increase agricultural production and achieve food and nutrition security especially for poor smallholder farmers in developing countries relying on rainfed agriculture for their livelihoods. The technology is anchored on the germplasm of crops and use of inorganic fertilizer; organic resource management; and other limitations to productivity such as soil acidity, erosion, pests and diseases. These pillars make ISFM invaluable to CSA.

IITA researchers carried out a 20-year trial in Nigeria to show the benefits of ISFM on all dimensions of CSA. In the study, reduced rates of nitrogen phosphorus potassium (NPK) fertilizer application to maize crops and input of nitrogen-rich organic residues were employed while rotating maize and cowpea.

The technology produced a much higher and better quality harvest for cultivated maize and cowpea. The study also demonstrates a cost-effective and environmentally friendlier alternative to boosting food security and generating wealth compared to lone use of synthetic chemical pesticides.

ISFM practices of combining fertilizers with organic input showed an average maize productivity of 2.8 t/ha versus 1.7 t/ha when only fertilizers were used. Cowpea yielded about 1.2 t/ha under the ISFM system compared to 0.7 t/ha when no organic inputs were made.

The study further showed that the variability in maize grain yields between growing seasons was reduced by 63% in the ISFM system whereas soil carbon content was almost double under non-ISFM farming practices, demonstrating that ISFM practice does indeed mitigate GHG emissions.

Details of the study are contained in a report by the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA) titled “Integrated Soil Fertility Management: Contributions of framework and practices to climate-smart agriculture.” The report, authored by D Roobroeck, P Van Asten, B Jama, R Harawa, and B Vanlauwe, elaborates on and serves as a guidebook for the practice of ISFM as well as identifies and proposes solutions to adoption barriers.

Even though the benefits of ISFM practice are demonstrably clear, adoption and maintenance rates remain very low across sub-Saharan Africa. The report identifies contributory factors that include high transaction costs, inadequate access to input/output and credit markets, land size and property rights issues, poor information dissemination systems, non-existent agricultural extension services, and a paucity of government and donor-funded projects.

The solution to these challenges may, however, lie in replicating across sub-Saharan Africa, an experiment facilitated by the Clinton Development Initiative (CDI) and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to upscale ISFM in Malawi.

The program which combines maize-soybean rotations with strategic use of NPK fertilizers employs a model that brings different participants in the value chain together, facilitating close relationships and enabling better access by smallholder farmers to information, input/output, and credit markets.

As a result, average maize and soybean yields have increased by 140% and 86%, respectively, in three years while women make up about 50% of the 18,000 smallholder farmers to have adopted the ISFM practice. Another 30,000 farmers, half of which are women, are currently being trained on ISFM practices and a total of 9,906 hectares of land have been converted to the ISFM system.

This demonstrates that accelerating adoption rates of ISFM across the region will ensure that smallholder farmers can secure their food and nutrition needs and enhance their incomes in the face of climate change.

Ugandan Agric Ministry pioneer development of climate change mainstreaming guidelines

Group photograph of participants at the workshop.
Group photograph of participants at the workshop.

The Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), with support from IITA-led Policy Action for Climate Change Adaptation (PACCA) project, and USAID Feed the Future Enabling Environment for Agriculture (USAID-EEA), organized a national level stakeholder workshop to validate the recently developed Climate Change Mainstreaming Guidelines for the Agricultural Sector in Uganda.

The validation workshop was held on 29 January in Mukono. Stakeholders from government ministries, departments, and agencies, farmer organizations, civil society organizations, private sector, development partners, research institutions, academia, and the media attended.

“MAAIF recognizes that climate change impacts can only be tackled through collaborative efforts,” Sunday Mutabaazi, chairperson of the MAAIF climate change task force, said in his opening remarks.

The guidelines are in line with the national ones developed by the National Planning Authority (NPA) in partnership with Climate Change Department (CCD) in 2014 to harmonize sector specific guidelines and ensure that they are aligned to national development plans.

The draft agriculture sector guidelines were developed through a consultative bottoms-up approach led by MAAIF that took nearly a year starting in November 2014.

During the validation workshop, the participants, grouped by subsectors (crop, livestock, and fisheries), scrutinized the document and gave their inputs.

Their feedback will be consolidated and integrated into the draft guidelines to be approved by the ministry, and rolled out for implementation by different climate change participants.

“Once validated, stakeholders at all levels should ensure that the guidelines are implemented,” said Chebet Maikut, commissioner, Climate Change Department, Ministry of Water and Environment. He appealed to the districts that had not integrated climate change into their District Development Plans to urgently do so.

The guidelines will facilitate mainstreaming of climate change issues into the agriculture sector policies, plans, programs, and activities by providing basic and flexible guidance on entry points. They also include basic steps and tools on how to mainstream climate change adaptation into agriculture policy processes.

PACCA is a CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) flagship project (policies and institutions) implemented by IITA, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Bioversity International.