Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops (SARD-SC), one of IITA’s projects working to improve productivity and income from growing maize, rice, cassava, and wheat, has partnered with the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD) and organized a two-day workshop in Cameroon. The workshop aimed at laying a solid ground for the implementation of maize as a commodity using the Value Chain Innovation Platform (IP) approach with the potential of increasing the income of smallholder farmers in Cameroon.
IRAD and IITA scientists were in attendance together with members of staff from the Agricultural Investment and Markets Development (PIDEM) Project, The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), Humidtropics national staff in Cameroon, and farmers from different parts of Cameroon.
The two-day workshop, held 19-20 March, was initiated by Dr Sam Ajala, Coordinator of maize commodity under SARD-SC and supported by Dr Chrysantus Akem, SARD-SC.
Cameroon is one of the Central African states where maize is regarded as an important staple food and a cash crop for the vast majority of the population. In 2013, a collaborative research
project to introduce improved maize varieties in Cameroon through IRAD was initiated by Dr Abebe Menkir, IITA’s Maize Improvement Program Coordinator, with assistance from Dr Silvestro Meseka, under the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE). MAIZE has opened a window of opportunity for IITA not only to introduce new varieties/hybrids into the five agroecologies of Cameroon, but has also provided a platform for IITA and IRAD scientists to interact in many ways.
Other topics discussed during the workshop were the past and present state of maize improvement in Cameroon; experiences of IITA’s implementation of regional maize projects in West and Central Africa since 1987 to date; highlights of the SARD-SC project using the IP of the commodity value chain approach; opportunities for IRAD’s maize improvement program to collaborate; possible strategies towards addressing the gaps and challenges to maize improvement in Cameroon, and the way forward. Two PhD students, future maize breeders in Cameroon, also presented their work. They are the next hope for Cameroon in maize breeding.
Dr Rachid Hanna, IITA-Cameroon Country Representative, also led the SARD-SC team in Cameroon to meet Dr Joseph Bedima, Director General of IRAD. Their meeting discussed partnerships and collaborative research work and networking between IITA and IRAD.