Through a realignment of the IITA strategy, the Central Africa hub of IITA was formally established in 2012 and provides the opportunity to advance the earlier good work in the Central African region to new heights, in terms of both science and impact. Rural households in Central Africa are facing major challenges while the region is under-resourced in terms of research-for-development capacity and presence of the international scientific research community. Notwithstanding, substantial progress is reported for the various research areas of IITA.
Seven improved cassava varieties were released this year, five in Cameroon and two in DR Congo. In Burundi, substantial progress is reported with advancing access to healthy banana planting material through macro-propagation. In Cameroon, the first experimental evidence was gathered of the susceptibility to Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD) and aphids among local and hybrid plantain and cooking banana used in West and Central Africa. This will form a basis for selecting Musa genotypes in which BBTD disease develops most slowly. In East DR Congo, the large potential to increase productivity in cassava–legume systems through the application of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) practices was demonstrated. In West DR Congo, the production of micro-chips for transformation into high quality cassava flour is an excellent example of how innovative approaches can be used to add value to farmer’s produce. Central Africa also has some of the last remaining primary forests in the world, often resulting in conflicting interests between the needs of primary households and the interests of the global community. The activities in Cameroon of Reduced Emission from all Land Uses (REALU) have shown that perennial systems exist that provide agricultural outputs while retaining carbon stocks.
Many of above results were obtained through effective partnerships with various stakeholder groups, as illustrated with examples from Burundi, DR Congo, and Cameroon. A total of 17 PhD and 13 MSc students were engaged in scientific programs in 2012 and 36 scientific papers were produced.
While most of our current R4D activities are implemented in DR Congo, Cameroon, Burundi, and Rwanda, initiatives are being taken to get engaged in the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and Gabon.
Implementing our mission happens through the CGIAR Research Programs which are multi-institutional programs tackling important global agricultural development issues. Besides the Humidtropics, other important CGIAR Research Programs, including Roots, Tubers, and Bananas, Water, Land, and Ecosystems, Climate Change and Food Security, Policies and Markets, Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, Maize, and Grain Legumes have a major role to play in Central Africa.