Western Africa

USAID cowpea and groundnut project holds stakeholder consultation

Project implementers and stakeholders involved in the USAID cowpea/groundnut scaling project in Nigeria met in Kano last week. The 19-22 January consultation is part of a series of in-country meetings being held to establish a common understanding of the project.

The project, Taking Cowpeas and Groundnuts to Scale in West Africa, covers four target countries—Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal. It is being initiated by IITA (cowpea) and ICRISAT (groundnut), in collaboration with national partners, value chain players, and the private sector, with funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

In the Kano meeting, participants discussed project goals, milestones, and activities; agreed on roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities, and drafted workplans and implementation plans for the first year of the project.

The meeting was attended by more than 100 participants involved in cowpea and groundnut research and value chain development.  They sat down for three days in breakout groups to tackle specific issues on seed systems, improved technologies (varieties, agronomic practices, postharvest management, and utilization), markets, knowledge dissemination and extension for both groundnut and cowpea, and to identify strategies that would address these issues.

The main objective of the cowpea component of the project that IITA is leading is to increase sustainable demand-driven production and productivity in smallholder farmers’ fields in the four target countries using best-bet production technologies in Feed the Future (FtF) communities through a strong partnership among USAID, IITA, and other key national partners. FtF is the US Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. It is exploring the expansion of partnerships with the CGIAR and related partners around a targeted set of technologies for the promotion and   large-scale dissemination of improved cowpea technologies.

The project focuses on scaling out technologies that enhance the production and productivity of cowpea in the four West African countries where the crop is very important for food and nutrition security.

Project outputs include the setting up of Innovation Platforms, creating awareness about improved technologies, establishing solid partnerships, and providing breeder and foundation seeds to support the seed system. These are expected to result in increased demand for improved cowpea seeds, crop management, and cowpea storage technologies. In turn this will lead to adoption and greater production of cowpea in project areas; increased income for farmers, seed companies, agro-dealers, cowpea food vendors; improved nutrition of children and the most vulnerable groups in the community and better availability of cowpea in the market.

Dr Alfred Dixon, Head of IITA’s Partnership Coordination Office, in his closing remarks, thanked the participants. “Your expert advice and perspectives during the discussions will help the project in developing the final strategic document.

This is one of those projects that I am sure will make a difference because it is paying attention to sustainability and on ensuring the deliverables and outcomes through engagement with key national partners.”

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